This month’s winter storms and freezing temperatures have resulted in more than 400 American Red Cross blood drive cancellations and nearly 12,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations. While the weather has affected the ability of the Red Cross to collect blood, hospital patients are still in need of lifesaving transfusions.
All blood types are needed to ensure a sufficient blood supply and there is an urgent need for blood types O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative. Eligible donors with these blood types are especially encouraged to make an appointment to give in the coming days.
Donors with blood types O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative can consider making a double red cell donation where available. Double red cell donation is done with the help of an apheresis machine which collects the red cells but returns most of the plasma and platelets to the donor. Donors need to meet slightly higher hemoglobin and body height/weight requirements in order to be able to give a double red cell donation. Double red cell donations take approximately 30 minutes longer than a whole blood donation and allow you to give two units of red cells.
Patients are counting on the generosity of volunteer donors to help boost the blood supply. Here is one patient’s story:
MEET JACQUELINE ROGERS When 8-year-old Jacqueline Rogers of Billerica, Massachusetts walked into an Red Cross blood drive in Boston recently, she stole the show. That wasn’t an easy thing to do with the Boston Bruins mascot in attendance.
Rogers was born with a congenital heart disorder and was scheduled to have open heart surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital in mid-January. However, her surgery was postponed due to a shortage of type O negative blood. Jacqueline and her parents, Alan and Valerie, decided to help raise awareness about the importance of donating blood so other patients don’t have to face a postponed surgery.
Media reports spread the young girl’s story and many donors drove long distances to attend the Boston blood drive in her honor. Some came from as far away as towns along the Canadian border. Rogers bravely thanked blood donors for their donations and danced and posed for photos in front of the media. Her vivacious personality put a smile on everyone’s face at the blood drive, which was held at TD Garden – home of the Boston Bruins. The event was co-sponsored by the Red Cross, Bob’s Discount Furniture and the Boston Bruins, and the Red Cross was able to collect almost 700 units of blood.
“Jacqueline has become the face of the patients we serve and her story underscores the constant need for blood donations, said Donna Morrissey, a Red Cross spokesperson. “There has been an outpouring of support and because of Jacqueline, people are putting compassion into action and donating blood.”
"On behalf of the patients at Boston Children's Hospital, I thank all those who have responded to the urgent need by donating at the Red Cross, Boston Children's Hospital, or other hospitals,” said Dr. Steven Sloan, Director of Pediatric Transfusion Medicine, Children’s Hospital. “This has been a great help, but it will take several days of people donating blood to ensure that we have enough blood for all our patients in the coming days and weeks. I urge people who couldn't donate blood at this drive to donate in the near future."
Rogers had her surgery on January 22 and her mother has said it went well. Everyone at the Red Cross wishes her a speedy recovery.
THE NEED FOR BLOOD IS CONSTANT It’s the blood already on the shelves that helps save lives before, during and after a disaster. The Red Cross has the ability to move blood products where and when they are needed most. Donors in areas unaffected by the severe winter weather are urged to make an appointment to give now. Their donation may be helping patients close to home or patients in areas where donors are unable to give because of inclement weather. Families of cancer patients, accident victims and many others are counting on the generosity of volunteer blood donors.
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.