WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The American Red Cross has issued an emergency blood appeal as it is in urgent need of donations.
"Every two seconds in this country, someone needs blood," said American Red Cross of the Cape Fear Area Executive Director James Jarvis during an appearance on News Now on Wednesday. "And we have to collect more than 13,000 units a day to meet the needs of more than 2,600 hospitals.
"And blood is special. You can't manufacture blood. There is no such thing as synthetic blood. The only way you get it is by having someone willing to roll up their sleeve and to give that gift of life."
Jarvis said that 40 percent fewer people donate blood today than did 10 years ago.
"You can donate every 56 days," he said. "It is a perishable resource. It's only good for 42 days so we need to have more people into the system to donate blood."
In the wake of the Fourth of July holiday last week, the need for donations is severe.
"We lost 550 blood drives last week that would have collected 15,000 pints," Jarvis said. " According to AAA, approximately 46.9 million drivers took to the roads last week, thereby increasing the possibility of car accidents So just as the demand is going up, the supply is going down."
The Red Cross also sees a steep drop in donations while schools are out for summer break.
"High school and college blood drives account for 20 percent of our overall blood supply," Jarvis said. "And those drop by 80 percent over the summer."
Jarvis also discussed the process of giving blood.
"If you have never donated blood before, first off you can go to redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive near you," Jarvis said. "And when you come in, from beginning to end it's about an hour. You'll check in at the front desk. If you've already made an appointment, that will make it a more efficient process.
"And then you'll read the information about the blood donation process and you'll see if there are any things that will limit you from donating that day."
If you're sick that day or have gotten a tattoo in the last 12 months, it will likely preclude you from donating.
"And then we'll take a test to make sure your iron levels and hemoglobin levels are where they're supposed to be and make sure you're healthy," Jarvis said. "Assuming you're healthy and you're ready to go then we'll bring you in to begin the donation process, which takes about 8 to 10 minutes."
Jarvis said those eight to 10 minutes can make a huge difference in many lives.
"You can save up to three people today by donating blood," Jarvis said.