WASHINGTON — The American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donations to prevent a shortage this winter.
Busy holiday schedules in November and December contributed to about 1,700 fewer blood drives held across the country compared to the two previous months, which resulted in about 50,000 fewer donations and reduced the blood supply.
Donation appointments can be quickly and easily scheduled by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
“Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood – that someone could be an accident victim, cancer patient, child with a blood disorder or another person in need of lifesaving blood,” said Chris Hrouda, the executive vice president for Red Cross Biomedical Services. “A shortfall can be averted if at least two more donors — above what’s currently expected — come to donate at every Red Cross blood drive this month. We encourage eligible donors to make an appointment to give blood or platelets and help ensure blood products continue to be there for patients who need them.”
January is National Blood Donor Month, which has been observed since 1970 with the goal of increasing blood donations during the winter — one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood and platelet donations to meet patient needs.
In addition to winter bringing busy holiday schedules for many regular donors, severe winter weather can cancel blood drives, and seasonal illnesses, such as the flu, may cause donors to be temporarily unable to give.
Blood and platelet donors of all blood types are urged to make an appointment to donate for patients like Pyper Young, now
7 years old. The chemotherapy that treated Pyper’s brain cancer also caused her to need emergency transfusions to increase her blood levels.
The Red Cross must collect about 14,000 donations every day to meet the needs of patients like Pyper.
How to donate blood
A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.
Individuals who are 17 years old (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood donors can now 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, from a home or work computer prior to arriving at the blood drive.
To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.
Upcoming local blood drives
• Friday, Jan. 22: Liberty Regional Medical Center, 462 E.G. Miles Parkway, Hinesville,
11 a.m. to 4 p.m. the hospital classrooms. Sign up at www.redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code “librmc.”
• Friday, Jan. 29: Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, 500 E. Oglethorpe Highway, Hinesville,
8 a.m. to 1 p.m.