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Chicago dealer to host blood drives

August 11, 2017
A Chicago dealer group is partnering with an area blood bank to bolster needed blood supplies for hospitals.
Fletcher Jones Chicago will host blood drives at Mercedes-Benz Chicago on Aug. 14; at Fletcher Jones Honda-Volkswagen on Aug. 15; and at the Fletcher Jones Service Facility on Aug. 18. The drives will be operated by Heartland Blood Centers, a nonprofit medical organization that provides blood and blood products to more than 70 hospitals in northern Illinois and northwest Indiana.
"We are hoping it can be an annual event for our group," said Lauren Librizzi, marketing director for Fletcher Jones Chicago.
Blood banks serving the Chicago area are at a critically low level not seen in several years, forcing postponement of surgeries in at least one hospital, officials said.
Donations typically decrease about 20 percent in the summer compared with the rest of the year. Blood banks expect donations to drop over the summer months when regular donors take vacations. The closure of schools and college campuses — which hold blood drives and attract new donors — also contributes to the seasonal dip in donations.
This year, donations have dipped even more. Local blood bank officials don’t have an explanation for that, but they contend the shortage puts the people who count on blood donations for emergencies, heart surgery, organ transplant procedures, cancer or other disease at risk.
The lack of supply has led medical staff at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center to postpone some surgeries, particularly those for infants or children who need blood that has gone through a special optimization process to ensure safety, according to Mark Pool, medical director for the Rush’s blood center.
Blood has a shelf life of 35 to 42 days. While it can be frozen, this requires a hospital to have proper storage space and thawing facilities, which not all hospitals do. Rush does have such facilities.
"Blood is a living resource. The cells are alive and there is no substitute," Pool said. "The whole thing literally depends on people."