After reports from Billings that their blood donations are down by over 50 percent so far this summer, KGVO reached out to the Missoula Red Cross about their blood supply.

Spokesperson Alex Harris said Missoula’s supply of blood is also less than desirable.

“Right now, the Red Cross has less than a three day supply of most blood types available in our hospitals,” said Harris. “This is due to donors who are taking vacations, during the summer and who are preparing for school to start. Just going off of the school part, our blood donations from colleges and universities account for 20 percent of all the blood we collect every year, so when schools aren’t in session we tend to lose a lot of donors which affects the overall supply of blood across the nation.”

Harris said all over the age of 16 are welcome to give blood.

“We’re looking for any donors of all blood types to come and donate blood,” she said. “Of course, O negative is the universal blood type and that is what emergency rooms typically call for when they don’t have time to figure out what blood type their patient is. We’re looking for people over 16. There’s no age limit, as long as they’re above 16.”

Harris describes the typical blood donation experience.

“We usually schedule an hour for the appointment,” she said. “The actual donations time with the needle in the arm is between eight to ten minutes. When donors arrive, we have them look over some health history questions to make sure they’re healthy and well enough to donate blood that day. Once we asses their health history we get them prepped, then we put the needle in the arm and draw the blood and then we encourage them to sit down, enjoy some cookies and get rehydrated until they feel better after they have just donated.”

The Red Cross Blood Center in Missoula is located at 2401 North Reserve Street. To schedule a blood donation appointment call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or you can go to our website at redcrossblood dot org.