Roads might slow to a crawl today, but the Oklahoma Blood Institute can’t afford to.
Inclement weather, whether it occurs or not, impacts donor turnout. Winter is a tough time due to multiple factors. The Southern Oklahoma Blood Institute in Ardmore usually sees around 30 donors a day. On Wednesday, only about 14 donated, including the center’s executive director, Susan Crews.
“Anytime inclement weather is even mentioned, we see a drop in turnout,” Crews said. “Today, some of our blood drives have seen lesser turnout.”
The Oklahoma Blood Institute aims to maintain a three-day blood supply for the entire state, a goal that requires about 1,000 donations a day.
“Ardmore is responsible, of course, for collecting part of that,” Crews said. “Even if it’s winter weather and you can go out and donate, please do.”
Crews said in addition to the drop in donations, winter weather can often cause a spike in road collisions, exacerbating the need for donated blood.
“Usage at least stays where it was, but then we always get the decline in donations, so that’s where what we call the ‘delta’ comes in,” Crews said. “Then, we’re not hitting the numbers we need to meet the daily demand. Even if there’s no spike, we still feel the pressure.”
The institute has other ways of meeting the demand and keeping donation numbers up during winter. Crews said they’ve run several special donation campaigns with giveaways, like shirts and movie tickets, which bolster participation.
Schools are usually a good source of donors, but they close during holiday breaks. Summer marks another low point in the year for donors.
“There goes a segment of donors, and everyone else is busy with holiday shopping and things like that,” Crews said. “Then you throw in this, and we could quickly get into a blood emergency if we have many days of winter weather that shut the state down.”
Crews said Oklahoma is far from a blood emergency at the moment, and it would take severe weather over the course of days to create one.
“It would take a statewide winter storm to really knock us off, but let’s say only Ada/Ardmore is effected,” Crews said. “That’s a big chunk that would cause us to be concerned.”
Crews said she recommends eating well before donating, eating iron-rich foods like red meat or leafy greens, making sure to include some vitamin C to aid with iron absorption and avoiding tea the day of, which can impact iron levels. OBI’s Ardmore location is on Veterans Boulevard, and accepts appointments and walk-ins.