SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – People are being reminded to donate blood as the holiday season approaches since the blood supply does fall low.

This time of year, holiday schedules, seasonal illnesses, and weather changes may impact how many blood donations are received. When people become sick, this decreases the number of people donating. According to Mass.gov, this week 573 lab-confirmed influenza cases were reported in Massachusetts.

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood and the Red Cross must collect enough blood every day to meet that need. Blood can’t be stockpiled since it is a perishable product, and only has a shelf life of 45 days.

“Because fewer people are making donations, we tend to see a dip in the blood supply,” Kelly Isenor, American Red Cross, Director of Communications said. “The Red Cross may ask you to push it back a week if you’re not feeling well. You want to be symptom-free when you show up at a blood drive,” Isenor adds.

Baystate Health System Medical Director of Blood Banking and Transfusion, Apheresis Medicine Services, Dr. Chester Andrzejewski explains when blood donations are vital. Dr. Andrzejewski says it’s essential for people with cancer that undergo procedures, whose bone marrow production is affected by drugs, and who are at critical risk for needing blood. Including those needing surgeries or trauma related like those who may have been injured in a car accident.

The Baystate Health Blood Donor Program usually collects red blood cells. But, recently their regional supplier has issued warnings and implemented inventory changes to hospitals across the nation. “It is currently the O-blood population that we are needing right now, which gives us flexibility in going with the other blood groups,” Dr. Andrzejewski said.

The blood donation bank deals with over 350 blood group antigens. For donations, there is particularly high interest in finding universal donors.

According to Dr. Andrzejewski, the following risk factors could result if not enough blood supply is given:

  • Once an individual donates there is a hiatus on when an individual can donate again, between 8 to 16 weeks. This can cause issues when a blood donation center is in need of immediate blood supply.
  • The supply chain is another risk component, with potential risk problems with bag shortages used in collecting the blood.

The donor center at Baystate Health reopened earlier this past year after a pandemic hiatus. It acts as the lifeboat, in which they would work to increase blood supply to a higher level.

Donors are urged to schedule an appointment with the Red Cross by calling 1-800-733-2767 or visiting RedCrossBlood.org. Donations can also be made through the Baystate Health Blood Donor Program by scheduling an appointment online or calling 413-794-4600.