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Summer sees drop in much-needed blood donations
blood donor pic
Turlocker Salomon Vargas donates blood platelets every three weeks at the Turlock BloodSource location. Typically, summer donations are down at the facility and at blood banks in general. - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal

According to BloodSource Project Manager for Merced and Stanislaus counties, Jamie Suarez, 52 percent of mobile blood donations come from area high school and college students.

During the summer months, with many students and families traveling, blood donations and supplies take a dramatic hit.

“Our need is great. During the summer a lot of students are gone or busy and the last thing they are thinking about is donating blood. We depend quite a bit on the students’ donations,” said Suarez. “Nowhere else in Central and Northern California are we more dependent on students’ blood than here.”

In order to raise awareness about summer blood donation, BloodSource employs movie theater drives and highlights its Pint for a Pint partnership with Baskin Robbins.

“We think of the Pint for a Pint as an added thank you for donors,” said Suarez.

Most donors don’t need promotions, they just want to give back and do a good deed for others. Turlocker Salomon Vargas is a regular donor at the Turlock BloodSource location, he come as often as every three weeks.

“I like to help people and I can come back so often because I have a high blood platelet count. Sixteen days ago my grandma passed away, and when she was in the hospital she received blood platelets so I’m kind of here paying it forward,” said Vargas.

While many donors feel it’s important to donate, the challenge for BloodSource and all blood banks is maintaining a healthy blood supply during the summer months. Blood can last — at most — 42 days but Suarez explained that less than one-half of a percent of blood goes unused.

Everyday BloodSource must collect over 750 blood donations to service hospitals from Merced County to the Oregon border and from the Vacaville to the Tahoe area.

Blood is stocked at 10 to 15 percent above expected volume in order to stock hospitals for large-scale disasters. When that blood is unused it goes to hospitals across California and the country depending on need.

According to BloodSource, someone in the U.S. receives a blood transfusion every two seconds.

“Blood needs never stop. Right now the average person donated twice per year, but we’d like to bump that number up to three or four times a year,” said Suarez.

This summer students will receive yet another chance to donate blood. From Aug. 2-5 BloodSource will be holding a summer competition drive with area high schools and colleges.

For more information visit or call 866-82 BLOOD. The Turlock BloodSource is located at 1040 Monte Vista Ave.

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.