A drop in seasonal donors coupled with a nationwide slowdown has created a critical shortage of blood throughout the region.
Recent demand has left the Naples-based Community Blood Center with a mere three day blood supply.
“We had a few blood drives over the weekend and we used a lot of those resources by Tuesday morning,” says Lauren Rosen, community relations manager for the CBC, an affiliate of Naples Community Hospital Healthcare System.
It’s estimated more than 12,000 pints of whole blood are donated annually by the residents of Southwest Florida.
But, when local snowbirds return home for the summer, a reliable source of blood donors is lost.
Nationally, about one third of eligible adults make regular blood donations.
And, what’s donated locally stays local and immediately goes out to area hospitals, according to Rosen.
While all blood types are needed, Rosen add, there’s a particular shortage of negative typed blood.
“Somebody has an Rh negative blood type, that means they don’t have the Rh factor within their blood, then they can only get a negative. If you have positive blood like I am, A positive, I can receive O+, A+, A- and O- blood. So, if you’re a positive blood you can receive negative blood but if you’re negative, you can only get a negative,” says Rosen.
Donate to win
CBC wants to encourage new blood donors to give, so it’s giving away a trip for four to Busch Gardens to one lucky donor.
“We want to give somebody something special to look forward to for taking time out to save three lives with just a single pint. Having a drawing is just another way of taking the fear out of giving blood that people have,” says Rosen.
Donors as young as 16 can give blood, with their parent’s approval.
And, donors may give a pint of blood about every two months.
Each pint is separated into its component parts … red cells, platelets and plasma –and may potentially help three different patients.
Blood drives are being held this weekend at the Hollywood 20 Cinemas in Naples.
Local health officials have issued as safety warning as record setting temperatures - including a triple digit heat index - is expected to settle over southwest Florida in the next few days.
This time last week, temperatures in Fort Myers broke a near decades long high of 96 degrees, stopping just shy at 95.
That's promoted a word of caution from local health officials who worry because the warning signs of overexposure to heat and humidity are often brushed aside.
"Some of the early symptoms --- nausea, weakness, vomiting --- these are often mistaken for other general illness types of symptoms. And, ignoring the symptoms of course can be very deadly. We know from the CDC that nationwide, nearly 700 people each year die from heat related injuries," says Susan Lindenmuth with the Estero Fire Rescue Department.
Jeff Welle is a registered nurse and health educator with the Collier County Health Department.
He's calling on neighbors to keep an eye on one another as high temps can quickly turn heat exhaustion into the more deadly heat stroke, requiring immediate hospitalization.
"If you see someone who is hot, and dry, their skin would be extremely warm, upwards of 104 to 105, and if they are showing signs of confusion, weakness, you wanna stop by and help them out", says Welle.
More than a dozen people have died nationwide this summer from heat related illness.
None here in southwest Florida.
Experts advise drinking water throughout the day, avoid overexertion and seek out air condition spaces during the hottest parts of the day.
Need help paying FPL bills this summer?
For older residents who may have trouble paying their utility bill this summer there is financial help available.
Seniors can choose from two options according to Eric Flusche, with Senior Friendship Centers of Lee County.
The first is a local program called E-HEAP or the Elderly Home Energy Assistance Program.
"Basically what that program is, is if they are at risk of being disconnected and they meet certain income requirements, then they can qualify for assistance on paying their bill to prevent the disconnect," says Flusche.
Lee County Human Services runs a similar energy assistance payment program for low income residents.
Residents can find more information by calling the Elder Help Line at 652-6901.