The American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donations to prevent a shortage this winter. Busy holiday schedules in November and December contributed to about 1,700 fewer blood drives held across the country compared to the two previous months, which has resulted in about 50,000 fewer donations and reduced the blood supply. Donation appointments can be quickly and easily scheduled by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
“A decline in the blood supply after the winter holidays is not uncommon, but it can be replenished when generous volunteers roll up their sleeves to help save lives,” said Sue Thesenga, communications manager for the Red Cross Lewis and Clark Blood Services Region. “We encourage our generous donors who are eligible, as well as new donors, to make an appointment to give blood or platelets and help ensure blood products continue to be available for patients. Every two seconds a patient in the U.S. needs blood.”
January is National Blood Donor Month, which has been observed since 1970 with the goal of increasing blood donations during the winter – one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood and platelet donations to meet patient needs. In addition to winter bringing busy holiday schedules for many regular donors, severe winter weather can cancel blood drives, and seasonal illnesses, like the flu, may cause donors to be temporarily unable to give.
Blood and platelet donors of all blood types are urged to make an appointment to donate for patients like Pyper Young, now 7 years old. The chemotherapy that treated Pyper’s brain cancer also caused her to need emergency transfusions to increase her blood levels. The Red Cross must collect about 14,000 donations every day to meet the needs of patients like Pyper.
How to donate blood
A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, from a home or work computer prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.