SAN ANTONIO – Branndon Frail has been in blood donation chairs countless times. He began donating as a high school student in 1992, but 20 years later it became personal when his 4-year-old son, Ayden Atticus, was diagnosed with cancer.
"There's a treatment he's currently undergoing that will render him probably being transfused every other day," Frail said.
Now an 8-year-old boy, Frail's son faces a terminal diagnosis. Transfusions, though, help him feel better.
"To be able to come home for a few days, to get his white blood cells up so he could maybe swim, so that he can enjoy the days that he has away from the hospital," Frail said.
Frail is helping the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center sound the alarm. It needs 2,000 blood donations by July 4 or it'll face a critical shortage as it heads into the slowest donation season of the year.
At the same time, STBTC also cited an increase in violent crimes, a high number of organ transplants and anticipated accidents as increasing the need.
"If you have red blood flowing through your veins or arteries, we need you," said STBTC Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth Waltman.
To reach its goal, the center needs 400 donations for each of the next five days. It currently averages 225 daily donations.
If the center falls short of 2,000 donations, hospitals may have to postpone non-emergency surgeries like hip replacements, implanting a pacemaker or hysterectomies.
It could also get worse.
"If there are bad traumas that are unanticipated or other big news, that could theoretically wipe out the whole blood bank," said Dr. Jennifer Daniel-Johnson, the medical director of transfusion services at the University Health System.
The Blood & Tissue Center wants more people to step up and donate like Francis Check, who sat in the center Tuesday as he watched a movie and gave platelets and red blood cells. He's been donating every 14 weeks or so since his father had some surgeries years ago.
"So I can help other people, because they always need blood and they always need platelets," he said.
STBTC will be open until 7 p.m. this week. To arrange an appointment, call 210-731-5590.