As millions of Americans finish gift purchases this holiday season, the American Red Cross reminds eligible donors to give the most meaningful gift of all — the gift of life — by donating blood or platelets.
Blood donations often decline during the holidays when busy schedules, bad weather and seasonal illnesses make it difficult for donors to donate, but the need for blood doesn’t get a break for the holidays. During the final two weeks of the year, the Red Cross needs to collect more than 175,000 blood and platelet donations for those depending on transfusions at hospitals and transfusion centers locally and across the country.
“When you donate blood or platelets, you are not only giving the gift of life to someone, you are also giving their loved ones hope for more holidays and joyous occasions together,” said Mario Sedlock, director of donor recruitment of the Red Cross Alabama and Central Gulf Coast and Southern Blood Services Regions. “To the parents of a child going through cancer treatment or family of an accident victim, that is a priceless gift.”
Blood donors of all types, particularly AB, O, A negative and B negative, and platelet donors are encouraged to make an appointment to donate to help ensure hospitals have the blood they need for patients.
Those who give Dec. 23 through Jan. 3 will receive a long-sleeve Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.
In addition to the 3 million volunteer blood and platelet donors who roll up a sleeve to give each year, Red Cross Blood Services also depends on about 84,000 volunteers to fulfill its lifesaving mission. Volunteers serve in a number of roles, from hosting blood drives to transporting blood products for patients in need. Noel Macek is one such volunteer.
When many people are anxiously awaiting the delivery of their latest purchase, Macek is awaiting the next opportunity to deliver blood and platelets. He has volunteered as a transportation specialist for six years and drives about 14,000 miles each year.
“(Red Cross) Hospital Services knows that anytime that they have an emergency run, they can catch me answering the phone at home,” said Macek, who has also donated more than 16 gallons of blood. “My favorite part is to deliver blood products to a hospital or location and be able to bring a smile to people’s faces.”
More information on local volunteer opportunities is available online at red crossblood.org.
How to donate blood
Donation appointments can be made by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in good health can donate. High school students and other donors 18 and younger, also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent 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, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.