Guest Editorial by the American Red Cross
Record-breaking cold and winter storms across much of the U.S. have had a significant impact on blood and platelet donations. The American Red Cross is urging healthy individuals – especially those with type O blood – to give now to ensure blood products are available for patient emergencies when help can’t wait.
Extreme winter weather has forced the cancellation of hundreds of Red Cross blood drives in about 30 states and caused more than 15,000 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected.
Every day, thousands of patients rely on lifesaving blood donations. The need for blood is constant, even during snowstorms and the COVID-19 pandemic. To help ensure lifesaving patient care isn’t impacted, individuals are urged to make appointments to donate in the coming days and weeks by downloading the Red Cross Blood donor app, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the blood donor skill on any Alexa Echo device.
Tina Rocco knows firsthand how important it is to have blood on hospital shelves. After welcoming baby Gemma by cesarean section, she began hemorrhaging badly and was rushed back into the operating room.
“I was later told it was several pints of blood and an amazing doctor that saved my life,” Rocco said. “That allowed me to hold my first daughter and go home all together as a family of three.”
Before that day, Rocco hadn’t known anyone who needed blood transfusions. Now, this grateful mother says, “You truly never know when you, or someone you love, might need it.”
Important COVID-19 Information for Donors
The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to the coronavirus, regardless of whether an individual developed COVID-19 symptoms. Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus. Plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for high levels of COVID-19 antibodies may be used to help COVID-19 patients.
COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within one to two weeks in the Red Cross blood donor app or donor portal at www.RedCrossBlood.org. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity. The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.
Upcoming blood donation opportunities Feb. 22-March 15
About Blood Donation
Simply download the American Red Cross Blood donor app, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or enable the blood donor skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their predonation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the blood donor app.
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.