LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Summer vacation has led to a drop in blood donations in Wisconsin, leaving hospitals in need.
Dozens of people donated at a Blood Center of Wisconsin drive in La Crosse Thursday morning, a fraction of the 800 donors a day the Blood Center needs to keep up with the hospitals it serves, including Mayo Clinic Health System and Gundersen Lutheran.
By now, Melissa Buss doesn't get nervous when she comes to blood drives.
"The needles don't bother me at all. It's not a problem for me," said Buss.
After all, it's her 25th time donating.
"I feel it's really important that everyone who's able to do it should do it. And it goes for such a good cause that it's just something that I need to do. I feel a really strong need to do it," said Buss.
But during the summer months, when people are thinking more about vacations than veins, donors like Buss are harder to find.
"Typically in the summer, we have fewer donors, simply because the high school and college students aren't available," said BloodCenter of Wisconsin Community Liaison Dan Gordon.
Those high school and college blood drives make up about a quarter of the BloodCenter's annual donations.
Each donation can save three lives.
"The factor that always sticks in my mind is that, if every single person who was eligible to donate... just donated once a year, there would never be a concern about the amount of blood we have," said Gordon.
Ardie Schock is another regular donor. He gives blood every two months. The husband of a retired nurse, he's seen firsthand the kind of impact giving blood can have, especially when donations are on the decline.
"Blood is in short supply at times, and right now is one of those times that they can use all they can get," said Schock.
Even though needles make some people nervous, Schock said it's worth a try to save a life.
"I just encourage everybody to come in and try it. If they have a problem, people understand. I mean, it's nothing forced on you. Come on in, try it and if it doesn't work, fine. But it's worth a try," said Schock.
The BloodCenter of Wisconsin is especially tight on O-negative and platelet donors right now, so those potential donors are particularly encouraged to donate.
There will be another blood drive Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Mayo Clinic Health System's Mary Crest Auditorium.
You will need to bring a photo ID to donate and the whole process takes about an hour. Walk-ins are welcome, but you are encouraged to schedule an appointment by either going to bcw.edu or by calling 608-329-2709.