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In this Aug. 20, 2013, photo, technician Greg Snyder, right, finishes up a blood draw from Chris Page after he donated blood in an Indiana Blood Center Bloodmobile in Indianapolis. The Indiana Blood Center announced in June 2013 that it would reduce its mobile operations, close a donor center and cutting other costs because demand from hospitals had fallen 24 percent from the previous year. This is largely due to fewer elective surgeries and medical advances that curb bleeding in the operating room. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Blood banks still in high demand for supply

Posted on Oct. 23, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on Oct. 23, 2013 at 5:27 p.m.

ELKHART — The Indiana Blood Center may be seeing a lower demand for blood from its clients, but local banks have not seen a similar trend.

The IBC announced this summer it would be cutting 45 positions and decreasing mobile operations due to less demand from its clients.

An AP story noted earlier this month that IBC’s cutbacks were due to a decrease in demand from its clients, which is leading to the organization’s restructuring.

But according to Christina Tembo, manager of blood donor recruitment for the South Bend Medical Foundation, the need for blood in this region remains as high as ever.

Just because the IBC is reducing operations doesn’t mean there isn’t still an urgent need in this area, she explained.

Tembo said the SBMF, which manages the Elkhart General Blood Bank, has expanded in recent years to include more and more medical facilities in the area.

“We’ve had some pretty great expansion,” Tembo noted. “Our demand (for donations) as the South Bend Medical Foundation has grown because we’ve been growing over the past five years.”

While the blood banks associated with the SBMF are managing to recruit more donors, the recruiting is not keeping up with the expanding client base.

Another part of the problem, Tembo said, is that when people hear that one blood bank is decreasing operations, they think it must be true across the board and cancel appointments.

“There is always a need for blood,” she said, “and it’s very irresponsible to say that there isn’t.”

One factor that could help local blood banks to continue to increase donations to meet demands is connectivity, Tembo said.

“It’s easier to track, target and reach donors now,” she said, explaining that social media and the internet have increased the foundation’s ability to connect with potential donors.

In order to help spur further donations, the foundation will begin a third mobile operation at the end of the month that is partially sponsored by St. Joseph Regional Medical Center.