Paris needs blood donations in the aftermath of the Attacks, although not that much more than a typical Saturday (EFS press release). Real shortages, however, are very likely in the upcoming winter and holiday season. Market designers point out that blood donations, with kind intention, can happen at wrong times. Instead, would-be donors can register their names and availability with the blood service, and help later when blood is most needed.
Long queues to donate blood everywhere
EFS (French Blood Service) informing of enough blood supply and asking donors to come back later
Boston in 2013:
Various calls for blood donations after the Boston Marathon Bombing, for example
(Notice the time of this tweet and that of the next tweet)
The American Red Cross politely declining more blood donations
What happened in the two cities are not coincidences.
Similar phenomenon in blood donations has happened during so many disasters like 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Victoria Bushfire in Australia. In severe cases, it leads to blood, the gift of life, being left expired on the shelf. However, in 'normal' times most countries suffer recurring blood shortages, especially during winter, due to the holiday season and that many regular donors are affected by cold and flu. Particularly this time in Paris, the winter is coming. The blood collected today will expire in a few weeks right at beginning of the winter months. Moreover, donors who donated today, when there is no real blood shortage, will not be able to donate in winter when shortages do occur. We can only donate blood approximately once every 3 months. Blood is so precious, so donate wisely.
The reason why the above phenomenon repeats itself across the world is because blood donations need to follow the demand for blood, but most people do not have the necessary information. In addition, other people's donations also affects the supply of blood in real time, which makes it impossible for an individual donor to decide whether it is a good time to donate blood. In Paris, we do want to help those who are injured in the Attacks, but not all donors need to respond at the same time. Too many donations can quickly lead to wasteful congestion and oversupply, and worse, potentially affect the blood supply immediately afterwards.
The solution is surprisingly simple, which is to set up a blood donation registry. People who want to help now can sign up in a registry, and commit to donate later when a blood shortage does occur. After all, a need for blood anytime is a need for blood. What difference does it make if it occurs during the Paris Attacks, Boston Marathon Bombing, Australia's Victoria Bushfire versus other 'ordinary' times? The blood service, which knows the need for blood at any given time, can contact donors in the registry to meet any excess demand for blood, and maintain an adequate level of blood supply in the long term. With the help of the registry, registered donors can be informed correctly not only when there is a potential shortage in aggregate, but more importantly, when their donations are needed and when others have donated enough.