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!

Emergency Blood Shortage: Red Cross Issues Urgent Call for Blood Donors

An emergency blood shortage is prompting the American Red Cross to issue an urgent call for eligible donors of all blood types – especially type O – to give now and help save lives.

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Photo Credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

The Red Cross escalated its call for blood and platelet donors after a difficult Independence Day week for donations. More than 550 fewer blood drives were organized by businesses and other community groups last week than during a typical week as individuals across the country celebrated the holiday and enjoyed summer activities. This could equate to as many as 15,000 fewer donations than needed, causing donations to now be distributed to hospitals faster than they come in.

“Each and every day, individuals across the country depend on blood and platelet donations for lifesaving treatments and emergency care, so it’s critical that people donate now to meet these needs,” said Cliff Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Blood Services. “Whether you’ve never donated or give a couple of times a year, you’re needed to give as soon as possible to help save patient lives. Yours may be the donation a patient is counting on.”

This need is especially critical for type O blood donors. Type O is the most in-demand blood type and often the first be depleted from hospital shelves during a shortage. Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations. Type O positive is the most common blood type and can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type.

 How to help

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Blood Donor Ken Krogulecki of Bay Village, Ohio

To schedule an appointment to donate, use the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). The Red Cross has added about 6,500 additional appointment slots at donation centers and community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to accommodate more donors. Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to donate.

 

Who blood donations help

Because of generous donors, the Red Cross is able to provide blood products for patients like 9-month-old Krew Anderson. Krew is a happy, laid-back baby boy. His wide grin frames two tiny teeth. He likes to play with balloons and just experienced his first boat ride and fireworks show, but Krew has faced more challenges in the last four months than many people will experience in a lifetime.

In March, Krew was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a type of cancer that causes bone marrow to produce a large number of abnormal blood cells. Since then, he has gone through four rounds of chemotherapy and received 15 blood and platelet transfusions to date.

“The first time he got [a transfusion], I was just super nervous and didn’t know really what was happening,” said his mother, Stephanie Anderson. “Now, when he gets one, I’m like, ‘Yes, please, get him some blood to help him get more energy and back to normal.’”

Krew’s father, Richard Anderson, donated blood a couple of times a year prior to his son’s diagnosis, but after seeing Krew receive blood, he now plans to give as soon as he’s eligible again.

“For me, just knowing that if it happened to me, it can happen to anyone. I want to make sure there’s enough blood out there for everyone, and that there’s no shortage,” he said.

Stephanie Aholt of Strongsville also knows the value of donated blood.  It saved the life of her newborn son, Benjamin.  See and hear Stephanie’s story here.

Missing Types sees encouraging increase in new donors – all donors needed now

Facing a decline of about 80,000 new Red Cross blood donors each year for the past several years, the Red Cross launched the Missing Types campaign in June to encourage new donors, and those who have not given recently, to donate blood. While the campaign has already inspired thousands of new donors to give, the Red Cross is now calling on all eligible blood and platelet donors to roll up a sleeve as soon as possible to overcome the emergency blood shortage.

Through the Missing Types campaign, which runs throughout the summer, the letters A, B and O – letters used to identify blood types – disappeared from corporate logos, celebrity social media accounts and favorite websites to illustrate the critical role every blood donor plays in ensuring blood is never missing from hospital shelves.

Give From the Heart Blood Drive at Landerhaven

The timing couldn’t be better.

The 19th annual American Red Cross Give from the Heart Blood Drive takes place on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 at Landerhaven.  It is the largest one day blood drive in Ohio, and it comes at a time when an urgent appeal for blood has been issued due to a severe winter blood shortage.

Call 1-800 RED CROSS to schedule your appointment, or log onto redcrossblood.org and use the sponsor code  Landerhaven, or click here to make an appointment.   You can also download the Red Cross Blood App to make your appointment. All donors will receive free gifts from the many sponsors participating, and can enjoy live entertainment and gourmet food offered by Executive Caterers.

Photos from the Give from the Heart Blood Drive at Landerhaven in 2016.
Photo credit: Mary Williams/American Red Cross

Landerhaven is located at 6111 Landerhaven Drive, Mayfield Heights, OH, 44124.