(KFVS) - The need for donated blood stays constant during the summer, but the American Red Cross experiences a drastic decline in new donors.
That's why the Red Cross is urging new donors as well as those who haven't given recently to make an appointment to give blood or platelets to help sustain the community blood supply this summer.
In Illinois, 41 percent fewer new donors gave blood last summer.
In Missouri, the figure was 39 percent fewer.
Most schools where blood drives are held and where many new donors come forward are not in session during the summer.
Donors often delay giving due to summer vacation plans.
The donating process takes about an hour with the actual donation averaging less than 10 minutes.
The Red Cross offers these helpful tips to make the donation process more enjoyable:
Eat iron-rich foods before donating.
Drink an extra 16 ounces of water before and after the donation.
Have a healthy meal before donating.
Wear clothing with sleeves that can be raised above the elbow.
Complete a Red Cross RapidPass, available on redcrossblood.org, on the day of donation to save time.
Bring a picture ID, blood donor card or two other forms of identification.
"Blood and platelet donations often do not keep pace with hospital demand during the summer months," said Joe Zydlo, External Communications Manager, Missouri-Illinois Blood Services Region. "You can make a lifesaving difference for cancer patients, accident victims and others in need."
Appointments can be scheduled by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS(1-800-733-2767).
There are nearly 40 blood drives scheduled this June in southeast Missouri and southern Illinois.