Red Cross thankful for summer donors

Robert Richey, maintenance technician for Trident Health Center, donates blood last week at Trident Medical Center. Richey has been donating blood since he was in high school.

Even during the summer months, Robert Richey opens a vein and donates blood for those in need.

"It's a chance to help out without having to do too much work on my end," he said last week.

Richey started giving blood 14 years ago when he was in high school and he donates as often as he can.

Now more than ever, the American Red Cross needs people like Richey.

During the summer, people are less likely to donate blood and, this summer, type O negative blood supplies are low.

"O negative is such a critical type because it's a universal type. Anyone can receive it and, because of that, hospitals like to have it on hand," Charleston area donor recruitment supervisor Patrick Lamontagne said.

In emergency situations, when doctors don't have time to cross-match a patient's blood, O negative can be used without fear of rejection, he said.

For the American Red Cross, the fear is not having enough blood for hospitals.

Lamontagne said the reason for the decline in donors is that people are busy taking vacations. However, with more people on the road in the summer, the need for blood remains constant.

"With more traffic accidents and boating accidents around here, we still need blood," he said.

Richey said he keeps this in mind when he donates.

"Back in high school, I gave because I had friends that had been in accidents and I had seen how much that blood meant for them," Richey said, "You just never know when you or someone you know will need blood."

Lamontagne said people often get incorrect information about the procedure of donating blood.

Giving blood only takes about five to 10 minutes, and it could be the best thing a person can do in that short amount of time, Lamontagne said.

"The donation of that one pint could mean a lifetime to the person that receives it," he said. "There's really nothing to be afraid of," he said, smiling as his own blood was drawn.

Lamontagne said he agrees.

"It's a pretty special feeling to know that you're immediately going to impact a person's life in the next 2-3 days."