Low blood donation numbers raise concerns

(Mike Wadsworth/WCIV)

By Mike

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - The American Red Cross reported the lowest donor turnout in 15 years this summer, and the donor numbers are still not going back up.

"As little time as donating blood takes, I don't know why more people don't do it," said Rosemary Wahlhaupter of Moncks Corner who came out to the ABC News 4 and American Red Cross blood drive to support her husband on Thursday.

Laura Zagby, a donor recruiter for the Red Cross, says the donor goal for the blood drive Thursday at the Northwoods and Citadel malls was 400.

The final numbers Thursday night showed a total of 194 donations.

Why are people not donating when the need for blood is at a critical level?

"That's the million dollar question," said Zagby. "We need the community to realize there are patients who need blood transfusions their whole life."

According to Zagby, South Carolina imports 1,000 pints of blood each month because donations in the state do not meet the demand.

"The average person donates 1.5 times a year. If everyone gives two times a year, that is eligible, we would never have a shortage," said Zagby.

Despite the low numbers, several donors that came out to the blood drive Thursday donate as often as they can.

"I get in every two months or so," said Rosemary's husband Roger Wahlhaupter. "I want to help people, and I've been on the receiving end enough," he said.

"He's supposed to have knee replacement surgery soon. You never know when he'll need blood. You don't know what the future holds," said Rosemary.

Robert Shober of North Charleston donated for the third time this year.

"I think, 'What if I was in an accident or my wife was in an accident?'" said Shober. "I think it's just the right thing to do," he said.

"People should come out and give blood knowing it will save someone's life," said Collections Specialist, Holly Gomez.

One pint of donated blood can save up to three lives.

"A lot of the blood goes to children, cancer patients, especially kids with born situations. It's not just people in accidents, it's people with disease too," said Gomez.

If you are interested in donating, the next American Red Cross blood drive in the Lowcountry is Saturday at the ATP Gun Shop and Range on College Park Road in Summerville. The blood drive runs from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.