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American Red Cross Launches SleevesUp Virtual Blood Drives

Blood recipient Barrett Stark with Cabot Junior High North football team

January is National Blood Donor Month and this year, American Red Cross supporters have a new way to help save lives through blood and platelet donation with SleevesUp virtual blood drives. The opportunity comes at a time when donations are especially needed.

SleevesUp is a first-of-its-kind website that lets those who feel passionate about blood donation create a virtual blood drive and encourage colleagues, friends and family members to give blood or platelets, or make a financial donation to support their campaign. SleevesUp campaigns allow people to honor someone’s life, celebrate a special occasion or simply bring others together to help save lives – any time of the year – regardless of location.

SleevesUp is one of many ways individuals and groups can celebrate National Blood Donor Month, which has been observed in January since 1970 and recognizes the importance of giving blood and platelets while honoring those who roll up a sleeve to help patients in need. The winter months can be especially difficult to collect enough blood and platelets to meet patient needs, and this winter is no different.

Since the beginning of January, dozens of Red Cross blood drives have been cancelled in 18 states due to inclement weather, resulting in more than 2,000 units of blood uncollected. Additionally, the flu is widespread across the country and may be preventing many regular blood and platelet donors from keeping their scheduled appointments. Now would be the perfect opportunity to form a virtual blood drive.

One of the first SleevesUp drives in the nation is in honor of Barrett Stark, an Arkansas teen with leukemia. Barrett began his battle with leukemia in April. Since his diagnosis, he has undergone chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants and other treatments. Barrett received dozens of blood and platelet transfusions so far and faces at least two and a half more years of treatment.

“It feels really good knowing that people are helping me and my family,” said Barrett. “I love knowing that people are donating blood to help other people.”

Barrett’s mom, Polly Pettey, encourages people across the nation to roll up a sleeve and take part in a virtual blood drive – whether it is for Barrett or someone else. “You are giving life! Even if your donation gives someone just one more day with someone they love, that is so worth it,” said Polly. “Sleeves up!”

A SleevesUp virtual blood drive can be created online at redcrossblood.org/SleevesUp in just a few minutes. Once a campaign is created, others can pledge their support immediately by making an appointment to donate blood or platelets at a blood drive or donation center convenient for them. Those who are not eligible to give blood, do not have a Red Cross blood donation opportunity near them or simply want to do more can also support a SleevesUp campaign by making a financial donation to Red Cross Blood Services.

Eligible donors with all blood types, particularly O negative, A negative and B negative, and platelet donors are encouraged to make an appointment to give. In addition, individuals are encouraged to check out SleevesUp and invite others to join them in making a lifesaving donation.

Blood can be safely donated every 56 days. Platelets can be given every seven days – up to 24 times a year. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in most 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 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org. Donors can also use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, which is free and available for download now. It can be found in app stores by searching for American Red Cross, visiting redcross.org/apps or redcrossblood.org/bloodapp, or by texting BLOODAPP to 90999 for a direct link to download. Message and data rates for texting may apply.

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 cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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