To combat the shortage, the Orange County Red Cross chapter is hosting two blood drives on UNC's campus this week.
The goals for Tuesday and Wednesday's drives are 55 and 50 units, respectively. The drives will be held in the Great Hall. Participants in the drive can receive a calculator, a coupon for a Chick-fil-A sandwich, Domino's pizza and, of course, the traditional cookies and juice.
The blood collection division of the Red Cross operates not by states or counties but by regions. Orange County falls in the Blood Services Carolinas Region, which extends from Wilmington across the state to Johnston City, Tenn.
Casey Copp, a representative of the Orange County Red Cross, said the area tries to keep at least a two-day supply of each blood type on hand at all times.
"We use about 1,500 units daily in the region," Copp said. "We are currently at a two-day supply for most types."
Copp said the Red Cross has less than a two-day supply in blood types O+, O-, B+ and B-.
Jeff Davis, the donor resources development representative for the Blood Services Carolinas Region, said the blood shortage is not unprecedented.
"During the summer, we're always seeing our lower levels," he said. "When our supply level drops below three days, we start to get concerned."
Davis said the lack of blood is brought about by schools being out for the summer and not holding blood drives, potential donors being on vacation and a larger number of deferrals due to iron deficiencies.
Blood collected by the Red Cross undergoes a number of test, including one for iron content. If the donor does not have the right amount of iron in his blood, the donation cannot be accepted.
Copp said deferrals can be avoided by taking appropriate steps before coming to a drive. "Get a good breakfast and a good lunch," she said. "Preferably, people should begin monitoring their iron days before a drive."
Copp said raisins, spinach, salads and orange juice are all good ways to boost one's iron level.
Iron is not the only way to be excluded from donating. Travel deferrals are also commonplace. "If you've lived in Europe for more than six cumulative months from 1980 to today, you cannot donate," Copp said.
These stringent restrictions are in place to protect against foot and mouth disease and other ailments that can be transported from other countries.
Donors also can be turned away if their body temperature or blood pressure are too high.
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