A call for blood: Red Cross issues plea for blood and platelet donations

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio
Photo credit: Jim McIntyre, Regional Communications Manager

The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage and urgently needs blood and platelet donors to give now to avoid delays in lifesaving medical care for patients. Volunteer blood drive hosts are also critically needed to prevent the shortage from worsening this winter.

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Blood donor Michelle Polinko and Red Cross Collections Technician Willie Muse

Launching an appeal in November is unprecedented for the Red Cross, and everyone is needed to help replenish supplies as we head into a difficult holiday blood collection season.

During September and October, coupled with hurricanes Michael and Florence, the Red Cross collected over 21,000 fewer blood and platelet donations than what hospitals needed. Blood donors of all blood types, especially type O, due to it being a universal donor and for its ability to be used for all blood types, and platelet donors are urged to make an appointment to donate at RedCrossBlood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Additionally, more than 130 blood drives in Northeast Ohio are needed in December, January and February to help stop the shortage from continuing throughout winter. Donations often decline during the winter holidays when many groups postpone blood drives while regular donors are busy with holiday activities and travel. Severe winter weather may also cause blood drive cancellations contributing to fewer donations than needed.

Only 38 percent of the population is eligible to donate. However, less than 10 percent of those who are eligible actually donate. Time and time again, people state the reason they never considered donating blood was simply because they were never asked. Well Northeast Ohio, consider yourself asked!

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Red Cross blood donor Emily Probst

How to help:

Eligible donors can find a blood or platelet donation opportunity and schedule an appointment to donate by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass, are encouraged to help speed up the donation process. RapidPass lets donors complete the pre-donation reading and answer the health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, from the convenience of a mobile device or computer, or through the Blood Donor App.

IMG_6405For those in the Greater Cleveland Area interested in giving blood and donating platelets, the Red Cross has blood donation centers in Cleveland and Parma. The Warzel Blood Donation Center is located at the Regional Headquarters on 3747 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland and is open from 7 am to 3 pm on Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and 12 pm to 8 pm Tuesday to Thursday.

The Parma Donation Center is located on 5585 Pearl Avenue and is open from 12 pm to 8 pm Monday to Thursday and 7 am to 3 pm Friday to Sunday.

The Red Cross also has a donation center in our Akron office and a donation center in Mansfield.

Those interested in hosting a blood drive can learn more and sign up to sponsor a drive this winter, by visiting RedCrossBlood.org/HostADrive.

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, we are thankful for the loyal donors who give the gift of life regularly. Here are some helpful facts as you prepare to take the next steps to donate today:

  • The average person has about 10 to 12 pints of blood in his or her body.
  • There are 4 blood groups: A, B, AB and O.
  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • Red cells, which contain hemoglobin, carry oxygen throughout the blood and give blood its red color, are used to treat trauma or surgery patients.
  • Platelets helps prevent massive blood loss by helping blood clot and is used to treat cancer patients, organ transplant patients and surgery patients.
  • You can donate blood every 56 days and you can donate platelets up to 24 times per year.
  • You must be at least 17 years old to donate. In Ohio, you can donate blood if you are 16 years old and have written parental consent.
  • You must weigh at least 110 pounds. Additional weight requirements apply
    for donors 18 years old and younger and all high school donors.
  • From beginning to end, the blood donation process takes about one hour and 15 minutes to donate blood and three hours to donate platelets.
  • The Red Cross does not charge for the blood itself, but does recoup the many costs associated with the donation process.
  • After you donate, you can enjoy juice and cookies in the refreshment area and think about the difference you’ve made!