The American Red Cross is urging people who are eligible to schedule a time to give blood as soon as possible to help ensure a safe and adequate supply of blood for patients who need it.
The number of people giving blood has dropped this summer and the Red Cross reminds people that hospital patients need blood seven days a week, 365 days a year, no matter what time of year it is.
Some people learn firsthand how important it is to have an adequate supply of blood on hand. Traci was involved with the Red Cross for years, well before she discovered she would need blood to help save her life. Her father worked for the Red Cross as a career member of the military in Korea. Her grandmother received blood when undergoing treatment for leukemia.
Traci began coordinating her employer’s blood drive. On the day of the blood collection, Traci tried to give blood but was deferred. The level of iron, or hemoglobin, in her blood was very low and the Red Cross staff advised her to see her family doctor. She did, and was admitted to the hospital where she received nearly a dozen units of blood.
Today, Traci takes routine shots to control her health condition and is doing well. She hopes to donate again someday soon, but until then, she volunteers at Red Cross blood drives and shares her story about how blood donors helped save her life.
Stan and Tracey also learned how important it is to have blood available when a patient needs it. The couple traveled 200 miles to go snowmobiling. The trails were smooth. The scenery was beautiful. Then Stan saw a deer dart from the woods and knock Tracey from her snowmobile and into a tree.
Tracey was transported to the hospital and immediately taken into surgery. Her femur was broken. Her kidneys and lungs were damaged. Doctors removed her gall bladder and spleen. And she received 100 units of red cells and platelets to control profuse internal bleeding.
Tracey was in the hospital for four months. She had a stroke and drifted into a coma. Then one day, with Stan by her side, she opened her eyes. The next day she moved her finger. She was ready, Stan says, to start her recovery.
Doctors say Tracey’s life is a miracle. Tracey agrees, and takes simple pleasure in being able to walk, talk and even breathe. Both Tracey and Stan say the experience gave them a new outlook on life. And each says, too, they’ll donate blood or platelet every chance they get, simply to help others the way blood donors helped them.
To help build the blood supply back up to where it should be, all blood types are needed. There is a particular need for donors with Type O-Negative blood, the universal blood type. Type O-Negative blood can be transfused to patients with any blood type and is often used in emergency situations when doctors don’t have the time to type a patient’s blood.
Type O-negative blood donors can make the difference between an adequate blood supply and a lingering summer shortage. A drop in blood donations often occurs during the summer months when many people go away on vacation, schools are on summer break and companies are hosting fewer blood drives. This summer, the heat is keeping many people indoors out of the sweltering humidity, away from blood collections.
Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. Accident victims, as well as cancer patients, patients with sickle cell disease and other blood disorders, burn victims and many others receive lifesaving transfusions every day. There is no substitute for blood and volunteer donors are the only source.
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are in general good health may be eligible to give blood. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.
Eligible blood donors are asked to please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive and make an appointment.