Kentucky Blood Center announces summer donation incentives

Kentucky has a blood shortage going into summer when people tend to not donate as often

By: - May 12, 2023 1:09 pm

Credit: Kentucky Blood Center

Saying the need for blood “doesn’t take a vacation” the Kentucky Blood Center is asking the public to donate in the coming months.

As part of an “SOS” – Save our Summer – campaign, the center will give away tickets to amusement park Kings Island, LexLive movie tickets, gift cards, Rupp Arena concert tickets and, of course, T-shirts. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many have stopped giving blood, which left Kentucky – and the nation – in a critical blood shortage. 

And even though the supply has somewhat stabilized, people tend not to donate as much in the warmer months. 

“We tend to have to work harder in the summer to collect blood to serve local patients at hospitals throughout the state,” Mandy Brajuha, vice president of external relations for the KBC, said in a statement. 

“Historically, an uptick in transfusions at any point in the summer can really put us in a tough position due to the drop off in donations,” Brajuha added. “Blood must be on the shelves when need arises.”

Blood donation centers recently urged even more donations following mass shootings in Louisville. Treating the injured took dozens of donations. People who get shot need 10 times more blood during transfusions than people injured other ways – like car wrecks or stabbings, according to Johns Hopkins. 

Kentucky has had more than 260 shootings in which 191 people were injured so far in 2023. Following the deadly Old National Bank shooting on April 10, many first-time donors signed up to give blood. 

But, the need is still there – especially for those who are O-Negative, a universal type that can be used to treat people of other blood types. 

“Although we’ve seen a modest increase in donors to start 2023 in comparison to the last few years, we still haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels, which is worrisome entering the always-difficult summer months,” Brajuha said. 

According to the center, donations last year were 12% lower than in 2019, a pre-pandemic year.

Meanwhile, the need for blood did not drop. 

The incentives

People will get Kings Island tickets when they donate blood through the Kentucky Blood Center on these dates: 

  • May 15-16: Beaumont and Andover (Lexington)
  • May 22-23: Frankfort, Somerset and Tri-County (Corbin)
  • June 5-6: Hillview and Middletown (Louisville) and Pikeville

Folks who donate on June 9 at Central Bank Center in Lexington from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. will get: 

  • A T-shirt 
  • A LexLive movie ticket 
  • Donors at this event will also be entered to win tickets to WWE Friday Night Smackdown on June 16 or Thomas Rhett on June 22 and Guns N’ Roses on Sept. 6 at Rupp Arena. 

To make an appointment to give blood through KBC:  


To give blood, you must be 17 or have parental consent at age 16. You must weigh no less than 110 pounds, be healthy and have photo identification. 

Citing the need for blood donation inclusivity, the United States Food and Drug Administration on Thursday paved the way for men who have sex with men to be able to give blood without abstaining from intercourse for three months before donating. 

Now, donors will answer risk-assessment questions regardless of sexual orientation

Still, donors will have to wait to donate if they are on HIV medications or report recent anal sex. 

These rules contribute to stigmatization of the community, Chris Hartman, the executive director of Kentucky’s Fairness Campaign, told the Lantern. 

“There are still disparities that disproportionately affect the LGBTQ community” when it comes to blood donations, he said. 

“I’m glad the FDA is continuing to update the rules,” he added. “(But) it is obvious they are still not listening to our community clearly.” 


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Sarah Ladd
Sarah Ladd

Sarah Ladd is a Louisville-based journalist from West Kentucky who's covered everything from crime to higher education. She spent nearly two years on the metro breaking news desk at The Courier Journal. In 2020, she started reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and has covered health ever since. As the Kentucky Lantern's health reporter, she focuses on mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, children's welfare, COVID-19 and more.