Twenty percent of people who are scheduled to donate blood cancel the appointment over the holidays. This creates a shortage of blood at the time of the year when it is most needed, according to the Red Cross.
The organization has issued a call for more blood, especially during the holiday season, when people are more generous and likely to answer positively to these campaigns.
A Universal Situation
Despite the fact that Christmas comes with generally good vibe, people often change their plans and ignore the appointments they had made for donating blood. Various factors could contribute to this situation, among which is having so many plans during the holidays, or simply forgetting or neglecting the appointments.
The organization asked for an empathy exercise for people to understand the importance of donating blood.
"We ask the question, would you cancel that appointment if it was your friend or family member who needed that blood donation?" noted Shaun Inguanzo, a Red Cross spokesman from Australia.
Every week, the Red Cross collects as much as 25,000 liters of blood in Australia, and during this time of the year the supply has to be consistent for the medical teams to efficiently treat all patients. While it's always recommended to donate blood, due to the higher likelihood of road accidents during the winter holidays, all medical teams have to be prepared.
Throughout the entire year, demand exceeds supply. On average, one in three people needs blood at any given time of the year, while only one in 30 will donate it. During times such as the winter holidays, both factors of the shortage collide: people donating less blood while at the same time suffering from more trauma caused by car crashes.
The United States Needs Blood Donations
The situation, however, is not anything different in the United States. Regardless of country or ZIP code, people are encouraged to donate blood.
"The Red Cross is looking for new blood donors. A lot of our regular donors are traveling or busy for the holidays," noted Regina E. Boothe Bratton, external communications manager for the Red Cross in the Washington D.C. area.
Blood and products made from it can last up to 40 days. However, it is very unlikely for them to exist more than eight days after the donations because of the very high demand, correlated with relatively little interest from people.
Other causes which can prevent people from donating blood are severe winter weather, in some areas at least, as well as seasonal illness.