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Summer Violence Creates Need For Blood Donations at South Side Hospital

By Wendell Hutson | July 9, 2013 8:20am
 Shootings throughout the city have created a demand for more blood in emergency rooms.
Shootings throughout the city have created a demand for more blood in emergency rooms.
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DNAinfo/Devlin Brown

ENGLEWOOD — A South Side hospital is asking residents to donate blood as a summer spike in city gun violence has created higher demand in emergency rooms.

St. Bernard Hospital is hosting a blood drive on July 19 that calls on Chicagoans to help save a life.

"Chicago experiences increased violence in the summer. While always needed, during summer months blood donation is vital," said hospital spokesman Derek Michaels.

Over the holiday weekend, at least 11 people were killed and 62 were wounded in violence around the city.  Most of the shootings occurred on the South and West sides. The bloodshed continued into Monday, when three people, including a 15-year-old boy, were shot dead.

While police tout a decrease in shootings and murders overall, the increased violence still creates a shortfall in emergency rooms.

"The chronic violence in many of our neighborhoods creates a higher demand for blood supplies," Michaels said. "It is imperative that we get more people to give blood. [Blood donation] could save the life of a family member or neighbor."

The blood drive will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. Bernard, 326 E. 64th St. Sixteen donations were collected at its last drive.

Donors must be at least 17 years old. Sixteen-year-olds can donate with a signed consent form from their parents. Donors must also weigh at least 100 pounds, be in good health and able to provide valid identification, such as a passport, driver’s license or state identification card.

According to officials with LifeSource, a nonprofit organization that collects data on blood donors and runs blood drives, donations from minorities are often low.

Out of all blood donors in the Chicago area, less than 5 percent are blacks and Latinos, officials said.

"Ninety percent of the population will need donated blood in its lifetime, yet fewer than  
5 percent of eligible donors in the Chicagoland area regularly give the gift of life," said Tammy Basile, a spokeswoman for LifeSource. Every two seconds someone needs blood. Blood is needed daily for surgeries and medical procedures."

She added that a person can donate blood every 56 days, and all donated blood is tested before being used.

"Having a sustainable blood supply is vital to St. Bernard serving patients needing blood transfusions, such as those with sickle cell anemia, and those affected by other conditions, as well as the victims of accidents," said Charles Holland, president and CEO of St. Bernard. "People need to know they could be saving a life by donating blood.”