The American Red Cross today issued an emergency request for donors of all blood types to roll up a sleeve and help save lives. Red Cross blood donations were down by about 10 percent across the country in June, with about 50,000 fewer donations than expected.
“We’re asking for the public’s help now to prevent a more serious shortage,” said Stephanie Millian, spokesperson for the Red Cross. “Each day donations come up short, less blood is available for patients in need. It’s the blood products on the shelves today that help save lives in an emergency.”
June can be among the most challenging months of the year to collect enough blood and platelet donations. Many regular donors become busy with summer activities and are unable to make giving blood a priority. Those who are able to fit blood or platelet donation into their schedules can be lifesavers for patients in need.
MEET DAN DYE: Not many people can say they’ve been helping save lives for a quarter of a century—but Dan Dye can. He has been a dedicated platelet donor for the past 25 years.
It all started with a little encouragement from his father, who had been donating blood with the Red Cross for several years. “Dad was especially proud of me when I got to my five-gallon level because he had developed health problems and had missed that goal by only one unit,” Dan said. “I later gave him my five-gallon pin.”
When Dan discovered platelet donation in the 1980’s, he immediately jumped on board and began donating every three or four weeks, and he hasn’t stopped since. “Platelets only last five days, so I know how important it is to give often,” he said.
Dan has gone above and beyond, both in the donor chair and also by donating his time. On the weekends he can be found around town at local Red Cross blood drives, educating and encouraging others to give platelet donation a try. He also visits blood drives at his local church to “talk platelets” with potential donors.
“Since retirement, I have been able to help out at area college blood drives, recruiting platelet donors,” Dan said. “People often ask me why I donate blood and platelets and I say, ‘Don't ask me why, but rather ask me why not?’ Platelets have no substitute and can only be gotten from another person.”
Since becoming a donor Dan has hit milestones few can say they’ve reached, including his 10-gallon mark with whole blood donations and his 300th platelet donation just this past April.
“I have been able to meet the most wonderful group of folks that I can imagine; the staff of the American Red Cross and the donors that they work with,” Dan said. “I understand that the recipients of my platelets appreciate my donations and I know that the Red Cross staff members do. I am inspired by other donors who have been donating far longer than I have, and it is my hope and plan to continue donating for many years to come.”
THE NEED IS CONSTANT The Red Cross urgently needs both blood and platelet donations to ensure an adequate supply for patients all summer long. Eligible donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood are especially encouraged to give. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to anyone who needs blood. Types A negative and B negative can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients.
HOW TO GIVE For more information about donating blood, or to make an appointment to donate blood or platelets, please visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Individuals who are at least 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in 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.