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 hours a day.
  • 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!

Top Ten Tips for Fireworks Safety

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

Every Fourth of July there are invariably some headlines about those who lost fingers or limbs due to accidents involving firecrackers or fireworks.  It needn’t be that way if safety is as much a consideration as celebrating.

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Fireworks photo credit: Paul Wadowick/American Red Cross volunteer

In order to celebrate responsibly, consider these ten tips:

  1. Leave it to the professionals – go watch a city display instead of trying it at home. [Okay, there are 10 more since many of you just won’t take this advice.]
  2. Never give fireworks to small children or let them attempt to light them.
  3. Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  4. Never place a firecracker in a container – flying shrapnel can result.
  5. Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  6. Keep a supply of water and first aid kit close by as a precaution.
  7. Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  8. Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  9. Store fireworks in a cool, dry place – locked away from children and pets.
  10. Alcohol and fireworks are a recipe for disaster. Save the drinking for after the fireworks.
  11. Consider your pets – they really aren’t going to enjoy all the noise – some will be terrified – so find them a safe interior room or space in the basement where they won’t hear as much noise.

Regarding tip #10, if you’ve successfully enjoyed your own fireworks, consider yourself lucky.  Someone else certainly won’t be so lucky, and they may need blood in the emergency room.

Consider donating during the week of the Fourth.  Blood drives see a big decrease during the holiday week, but the need never decreases.  If you’ve been blessed enough to not need it, be the donor that someone else needs.

Check your Red Cross Blood Donor app or go to RedCrossBlood.org to locate a donation time and site convenient for you. You’ll receive a special edition Red Cross T-shirt as a special thank you (while supplies last.)

For more tips on safely enjoying your holiday weekend, see this article at RedCross.org.

 

Let’s Help Save Lives!

CEO Sends Message to Encourage Donations During Board Blood Drive

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Memorial Day weekend approaches.  It’s the unofficial start of the summer season, when blood donations typically drop.  The Greater Cleveland Chapter Board of Directors is sponsoring a blood drive tomorrow, the Thursday before Memorial Day, at Regional Headquarters, 3747 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland.  Regional CEO Mike Parks issued the following message:

Northeast Ohio Red Cross Family: 

As a reminder, on Thursday, May 25th from 1:00-6:00 pm, let’s roll up our sleeves and help save lives!  The American Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter will hold a blood drive sponsored by the Board of Directors.  The Red Cross has over 130 years of experience providing humanitarian aid – including more than 70 years of supplying blood to those in need.

Each pint of blood we collect can help save up to three lives and will touch the lives of so many more. What a great way to pay it forward and make an impact on people in our community and across the country.  We are very excited about the drive and I hope you are too.

We are planning some great giveaways for that day.  Let’s show our community and the patients in need of blood just how much we can do.  There are many ways you can help, but most importantly we hope you come out to donate.  It’s not every day that we do something that has such a lifesaving impact. Let’s blow this out of the water! Feel free to invite your family, friends and co-workers to support this critical initiative.  I plan to be first in line at 1:00 pm with my sleeve rolled up!!

Individuals who are at least 17 years of age (16 with parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.  If you are able and eligible to give blood, please make an appointment at www.redcrossblood.org using sponsor code NEOBOARD or call 1-800-RED CROSS.  In addition, you can schedule and track your donation by using the Blood Donor App.  It is free and available for download on iPhoneTM and AndroidTM devices through the App StoreSM and Google PlayTM or by texting BLOODAPP to 90999 for a link to download the App.

On the day of donation, blood donors can save time by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online prior to arriving at the blood drive by visiting www.redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and following the instructions on the site.  I just found out that the President of Biomedical Services, Shaun Gilmore, and his senior leadership team will be visiting us on Thursday—what better way to demonstrate our commitment to One Red Cross than having a highly successful blood drive—we might even convince them to roll up their sleeves!!

Thank you for supporting the American Red Cross!…Best regards, Mike

Wising you a safe and happy 2015!

With the new year quickly approaching, many people will reflect on the current year and how they can improve their lives in the coming one.

With that in mind, we’ve come up with some Red Cross Resolutions that will help you, your family and your community in 2015.

#1: Get a Kit

Whether you call it your disaster kit, a survival kit or a 72-hour kit – every household should have one. This kit should include everything your family would need to survive if you needed to shelter-in-place for at least 3 days.

For an in-depth look on how to build a kit for your home and auto, take a look at this blog post (home), this one for auto or visit www.redcross.org/prepare

#2: Make a Plan

Experts agree, an individual may have as few as 2 minutes to exit a burning building.

It is important to make sure that the entire family is prepared and informed in the event of a disaster or emergency. You may not always be together when these events take place and should have plans for making sure you are able to contact and find one another.

Here are some basic steps to make sure you remain safe:

  • With your your family or household members, discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play.
  • Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and plan to work together as a team.
  • If a family member is in the military, plan how you would respond if they were deployed.
  • Choose two places to meet:
    • Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire.
    • Outside your neighborhood (such as a relative or friend’s house in a different part of town), in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
  • Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or saved on their cell phones.

For more information on how to make a plan for your home, visit www.redcross.org/prepare

#3: Volunteer

There are many ways to help your community with the Red Cross. You could volunteer to assist donors at a local blood drive, turn heartbreak into hope as a Disaster Action Team member, help connect emergency communications for military families or by giving your time and talents in any of the many volunteer positions available. To get started, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer

#4: Learn CPR

Would you know what to do in a cardiac, breathing or first aid emergency? The right answer could help you save a life. With an emphasis on hands-on learning, our First Aid/CPR/AED courses give you the skills to save a life.

To view local courses, visit www.redcross.org/takeaclass

#5: Give Blood

There’s no one reason to give blood. Maybe you or a family member received blood, or you think that one day you’ll be in need of it. Maybe your friend or colleague asked you to give blood. Maybe you think it’s the right thing to do. No matter the reason, your getting involved helps the Red Cross maintain a healthy and reliable blood supply.

To find a Blood Drive or donation location near you, visit www.redcross.org/blood