Severe winter weather across much of the U.S. had a significant impact on the ability of the American Red Cross to collect blood and platelet donations in the first 10 days of the year. Between Jan. 2 and Jan. 11, winter weather forced the cancellation of nearly 320 Red Cross blood drives, resulting in a shortfall of more than 9,300 blood and platelet donations. Donors of all blood types are urged to make appointments to give this week.
While the severe winter weather impacted blood donation opportunities, hospital patients still needed transfusions of blood and platelets. Thankfully, some blood and platelet donors in areas unaffected by the polar vortex helped warm the hearts of patients in need by rolling up a sleeve.
THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH Disneyland has a long legacy of support for the Red Cross blood program. When the blood donation bus pulled into the ‘happiest place on Earth’ last week, Red Cross team members were greeted by smiling Disney employees ready to help save lives.
“All it takes is an hour and I was early for my shift,” said Disney cast member Charlie Patera. “Why not do a little something for someone who needs it?” Patera became a blood donor about six years ago, after his brother required multiple transfusions during spinal surgery. He thought it was a simple way to help patients just like his brother and he enjoyed it so much that he has been a frequent donor ever since.
In all, Disneyland employees donated more than 160 units of lifesaving blood last week. This was their third Red Cross blood drive in the past six months. Those who showed up to give received a special commemorative, limited-edition pin featuring Olaf – the lovable snowman from the hit movie ‘Frozen.’ Those pins have special meaning for those donors who gave while many others in the country were suffering from the freezing temperatures associated with the polar vortex.
DUNKIN’ DONUTS WARMS HEARTS America runs on Dunkin’ and so do some Red Cross blood donors. Recently Dunkin’ Donuts hosted a blood drive at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., to raise awareness about the need for blood and help boost the supply. All presenting donors at the drive were entered into a drawing to win New England Patriots tickets to the Jan. 11 post-season game versus the Indianapolis Colts. On Friday, the lucky winners were announced at a pep rally celebrating the gift of life inside the Dunkin’ Donuts in Patriot Place.
This also marked the seventh year in a row that Dunkin’ Donuts and the Red Cross teamed up for the “Give a Pint, Get a Pound” campaign, which provides a coupon for a free pound of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee to all presenting donors at Red Cross blood drives in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont during the month of January. The campaign, in celebration of National Blood Donor Month, has achieved great success during the past six years as Dunkin’ Donuts has provided more than 520,000 pounds of coffee to presenting donors.
BLOOD AND PLATELET DONORS NEEDED All blood types are currently needed to boost the blood supply, but there is an especially urgent need for blood types O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative. Eligible donors with these blood types are strongly encouraged to make an appointment to give in the coming days. There is also an urgent need for platelet donors to make and keep appointments to give. Platelets – a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients - must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are always needed.
DOUBLE RED CELL DONATIONS 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.
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 bad weather or a disaster 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.