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 Red Cross is following FDA blood donation eligibility guidance for those who receive a COVID-19 vaccination, and deferral times may vary depending on the type of vaccine an individual receives. If you’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine, you’ll need to provide the manufacturer’s name when you come to donate. Upon vaccination, you should receive a card or printout indicating what COVID-19 vaccine was received, and we encourage you to bring that card with you to your next donation. In most cases, there is no deferral time for individuals who received a COVID-19 vaccine as long as they are symptom-free and feeling well at the time of donation.
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. Donors are urged to give now to ensure blood products are readily available for patients.
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.
Those who give during the month of August will be entered for a chance to win a tech package or a VIP trip to Tennessee! Anyone who donates through the end of the month will also be given a $5 e-gift card to a merchant of your choice. Detailed information on Red Cross promotions are available at https://www.redcrossblood.org/local-homepage.html.
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).