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Blood donations needed as summer-induced trauma rises

Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 10:59 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - This 4th of July, many will use fireworks to celebrate the country and show they are proud to be an American. Amid all of the fun, people sometimes forget those fireworks are dangerous and can cause serious injuries.

The holiday weekend approaches as blood banks across the country are facing critical shortages. Vitalant, a nonprofit blood provider for Lubbock hospitals, is down to a 2 to 3 day supply.

James Dugger, the south division vice president at Vitalant, says it’s not uncommon for donations to drop over the summer, but with more people taking vacations they missed last year, supply is even lower. He says blood is going out to hospitals faster than it’s coming in.

“Anytime travel increases, there’s always that risk that’s out there. The primary takeaway is it’s the blood on the shelf that’s going to help somebody if something bad were to occur,” Dugger said.

Dr. Christopher Piel, the medical director at the UMC Emergency Center, says that shortage comes at the exact same time they see the most trauma in the ER.

“So, we’re a little bit ahead of the weekend. So, you have time. Go out today, tomorrow. Visit your blood bank and donate. You’re going to save someone’s life by doing that,” Dr. Piel said.

Dr. Piel says the ER typically sees more burn and hand injuries as firework sales go up. Dr. Gerad Troutman, the EMS medical director for the City of Lubbock, says to have some fun this weekend with family and friends, but do it safely. He says alcohol and fireworks don’t mix and even though we’ve had some rain, throwing a used firework in the garage trash can still set a house on fire.

“We do need to remember whenever we’re shooting fireworks that we should have good close adult supervision. We should also wear safety goggles, especially the person that is lighting because there are things that can come and we see a lot eye injuries during this time of year,” Troutman said.

“You know, I think everybody tells themselves it’s not going to happen to me, that those things don’t happen in our home. But, you take this year alone, we’ve had several drownings already,” Dr. Piel said.

In case those emergencies do arise, Dugger says Vitalant wants a full shelf. He says donating blood is really about donating time. If you’re donating whole blood, the process takes 30 minutes to an hour. If you’re a platelet donor, you can expect closer to two hours.

“When you think about the time that you give to be able to do this, compared to the generations of time that can be saved with that donation, it’s really kind of an easy choice,” Dugger said.

Dugger says type O blood is needed the most right now, along with A, B and AB plasma and platelets.

If you donate now through July 6, Vitalant is giving away t-shirts you can redeem through their website.

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