Flu season leads to fewer blood donations

WOODSTOCK — Blood donations to the Heartland Blood Center are down during the past few months, and employees say the flu is to blame.

Heartland Team Leader Tammy Hughes was operating the blood truck Friday at Northwood Middle School in Woodstock and said donations have dropped off lately.

“It's definitely down,” she said. “We've had a big decrease in the last couple of months. The flu has been very tough on our drive. A lot of people have been sick.”

The Heartland Blood Center needs to collect 600 units of blood per day to serve its 47 area hospitals. People who are sick, under 110 pounds, or under 16 years old are not allowed to give blood.

Hughes said Heartland has an adequate amount of blood, but problems could arise if donations continue to lag.

“We're at a good level, but that could change at any time,” she said. “We could be great, then down to a low amount if a hospital needs a lot of [blood]. We're doing OK, but we could be doing better.”

Northwood Middle School held its blood drive from 9 a.m. to noon, and only three people showed up. Class was not in session Friday but parents were coming in for teacher conferences.

“I can't believe I'm the first one,” said Yair Garcia, who arrived at the blood drive about 10 a.m. “It feels good. I hope other people donate blood. People need it.”

Hughes said some people have misconceptions about giving blood, like you'll gain weight or you'll get sick. She said that isn't true.

“It's education," she said. "Some of the things people think can happen to you when you give blood is amazing. It's our job to educate people.”

This was Northwood's third annual blood drive. Last year the school had eight donators, and in 2011 there were roughly 20 people who donated blood. Northwood Student Council Supervisor Gail Vanderpoel said the low turnout is due in part to the time of day. In 2011 the blood drive took place at night.

“I don't think this daytime thing is working,” Vanderpoel said. “At night [people] aren't going back to their job. My theory is that we should do it at night.”

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