Low Blood Supply

Because of seasonal fluctuations in supply and demand, the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is asking for help in making sure supplies stay up, so blood is available for people who need it. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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Demand for donated blood is always high, but it's higher than usual this year and summer is always a slow season at the Blood Center. Spokeswoman Courtney Johnson says blood supplies always go down in the summer.

"What happens during the summertime and on holidays, is donations actually tend to go down, because people get busy, they forget about donating, they go on vacation, so they're not in town so they can donate, or maybe their kids are out of school and so their schedules change. So donations tend to go down during that time."

Johnson says at the same time, the demand for blood is up nearly 15 percent this year, the biggest year to year increase in the blood center's history. This is happening in large part because the population of the greater Houston area is growing, and local hospitals are expanding, not just in the Texas Medical Center, but with more locations, and a wider array of critical services.

"More and more hospitals in our area cities such as Katy, Clear Lake, The Woodlands, in the Sugarland area, all of them are adding more and more resources for their communities to get treatment. Such as we're seeing a lot of increases in cardiac care units go up. Hospitals increasing their services for cancer patients, and all of those services need a lot of blood components."

Johnson says the blood center serves more than 200 hospitals and health care facilities in the 24 county Gulf Coast region, and it needs more than 800 donations every day to meet that need. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.

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