Philadelphia’s blood shortage has raised awareness among city and university officials to encourage others to donate blood.
At Temple, the American Red Cross is overseeing several blood drives and City Hall is also taking part in solving crisis.
The shortage developed over the summer when Philadelphians flocked out of town for various reasons. According to Richard Stewart, Account Manager with the American Red Cross, the reduction of younger people available to give blood led to the shortage in blood reserves in the city.
Stewart contributed the big move out of town to inevitable factors.
“People go on vacation. College students leave town for the summer,” he said.
As a result, there aren’t enough people to keep the blood supply at an adequate level.
“We need the younger generation,” said Stewart at a blood drive at Temple Towers on October 3.
Stewart said that the city usually received blood from the World War II generation and slightly younger age groups. But now those people are the ones who, more often than others, need the blood and that is where younger people come in to the picture. With older people on medications and simply not being as healthy as younger people, their blood is no longer suitable to be preserved.
Blood drives always call for people with O Negative blood to donate because O Negative blood is universal blood that all blood systems can handle.
Stewart emphasized this need for younger people to help as key to assisting all Philadelphians if and when this blood shortage affects them. “We need to get younger people because it helps you and your community,” he said.
As blood drives are the only method in which the city can get blood, Stewart said that officials and schools can encourage Philadelphians to donate. “The city can educate,” he said. There are efforts coming from City Hall to do that.
“We have talked in council to encourage blood drives,” said City Councilman Michael Nutter. Nutter said that the council will be holding a blood drive on October 23, as organized by the staff of Councilman Frank DiCiccio.
Nutter also said there are programs underway in Mayor John Street’s office to get city workers and City Hall staff to donate blood.
Philadelphia is like many major cities in the United States dealing with blood crises. Even on the Federal level, government has joined in the efforts to get blood. The United States Postal Service frequently has employee blood drives as do other government organizations. Companies in the private sector also frequently contribute to the efforts with blood drive days at work.
The city has become accustomed to blood shortages in the past. Stewart said that the amount of available blood has varied over time.
“We want it to be consistent,” he said. Stewart also said that one of the problems in finding suitable blood involves detecting iron in a person’s blood system.
If too many people have iron deficiencies, then the level of blood donations will consequently go down.
The American Red Cross is orchestrating more blood drives at Temple University including one at the Johnson – Hardwick Dormitory on October 31.
If these drives don’t help boost reserves, then another summer migration out of Philadelphia next year could prove to cause just as bad, if not a worse, crisis.