The Times West Virginian

December 28, 2013

Many factors contribute to decline in blood donations during holiday season

By Emily Gallagher
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — During the holiday season, the word “donate” is used a lot, often associated with toys, clothes or food.

But the American Red Cross would like blood to be associated with the word as well.

Cheryl Gergely, communications manager with the Red Cross, said through the holidays there is a decline in blood donations. She said there are several reasons donations are hard to come by this time of year.

“It happens every December,” Gregely said. “People get busy with holiday activities.”

Along with those holiday activities, Gregely said a lot of residents go out of town this time of year. Weather can also play a factor in the decreased numbers of donors.

“People are busy,” she said. “Shopping, visiting family and even weather conditions cause a decrease in donations.”

Even though the holidays only last a few weeks, Gregely said illnesses always come with the winter season. She said even when people do want to donate blood, they often can’t due to a sickness.

“Seasonal illnesses affect people that want to come in, and with all that together, December can often be a difficult time to collect enough blood to meet our patients’ needs,” Gregely said.

Gregely said the need for blood is still the same as it is throughout the year, but the donations are low.

To compensate for the decrease, Gregely said the Red Cross tries to spread the word about the importance of donating blood.

“This time of year we work closely with our blood drive sponsors and just inform them that there is a need for blood donations,” she said.

Gregely said the Red Cross makes sure there are several opportunities for people to donate blood. She said they are always looking to meet patients’ needs throughout the year.

Upcoming blood drives in Fairmont are from noon to 6 p.m. Jan. 8 at Central United Methodist Church; from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 25 at Valley Chapel/Benton’s Ferry United Methodist Church; and from 1-7 p.m. Feb. 5 at Central United Methodist Church.

Gregely said those interested in donating can contact the Red Cross to set up an appointment at 800-RED-CROSS. She added that people can get more information about how to have a successful donation or find other area blood drives by visiting www.redcrossblood.org.

Email Emily Gallagher at egallagher@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.