RED CROSS— Donating blood is one of the simplest ways to save lives and it only takes approximately one hour of your time. The American Red Cross continually asks the public to donate blood when a drive is in the area. According to the American Red Cross Blood Donor website redcrossblood.org, blood donors help patients of all ages: accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those battling cancer.
Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S., less than 38% of the population is eligible to give blood or platelets, and the average red blood cell transfusion is approximately three units. According to the Red Cross, a single-car accident victim can require as many as 100 units of blood and because blood and platelets cannot be manufactured, it takes the generosity of volunteer donors to make sure there is enough blood to help save lives.
Blood and platelets also have a shelf life which is why donations are constantly needed. Red blood cells must be used within 42 days (or less) and platelets must be used within just 5 days. On top of blood cells having a short shelf life, different types of blood can be difficult to come by. Type O negative red cells and type AB plasma is often in short supply due to their ability to be given to nearly all patients, but it is much harder to find in people. According to the Red Cross, only 7% of people in the U.S. are type O negative, and only 4% of people in the U.S. have type AB blood.
The American Red Cross is testing all blood, platelet, and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. As part of that effort, plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions. The Red Cross is committed to helping others in meaningful ways during this pandemic.
Donating blood products is essential to community health and the need for blood products is constant. The Red Cross follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need. As hospitals resume surgical procedures and patient treatments that were temporarily paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, donors are urged to give now to ensure blood products are readily available for patients.
Individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine are not able to donate convalescent plasma with the Red Cross.
However, these individuals may be eligible to donate other blood products with the Red Cross including whole blood and platelets if they meet other donation eligibility criteria. There are multiple ways to donate blood including whole blood donation, Power Red Donation, platelet donation, and AB Elite plasma donation which each have specific requirements for a person to be eligible to donate. Complete details on each requirement are available at redcrossblood.org.
As a thank you from the Red Cross, those who donate through May 31 will be entered for a chance to win a travel trailer camper that sleeps five. Make your appointment now or sign up to host a blood drive by visiting redcrossblood.org, download the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).