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Summer is a typically a slow time of year for Inova Health System's blood donation center in Sterling, which serves 15 hospitals in the area. In the aftermath of Friday's devastating storm, area hospitals have issued an emergency call for blood donations.
"In particular right now, though, [donations] have dropped even further than normal," says A.J. Hughes, assistant director of blood donor services at Inova. Because of the power outages and transportation challenges in the region, they've seen a big drop in donations; only about one-third of people who usually donate are coming in to give blood, he says.
"The impact is really significant, and we also faced the same dilemma with the traffic lights and moving and trying to get our staff moved around, so it made it really difficult for us as well," says Hughes.
Donors typically give one pint of blood at a time. Hughes says it could take up to 10 pints to save just one person in a trauma situation.
Donor services director Terri Craddock surveys the freezers at the center, which are half empty. "The most demand for blood is from our cancer patients," she says. "We keep them alive with transfusions."
As if saving lives wasn't enough of an incentive, Inova is giving away free t-shirts to everybody who donates. Inova is also holding a blood drive in conjunction with the Washington Capitals on July 28. Visit Inova.org to find more information.