March is Red Cross month, and the perfect time to recognize American Red Cross blood and platelet donors, blood drive coordinators and other supporters. Without the generosity of these everyday heroes, the Red Cross would be unable to fulfill its lifesaving mission and help patients in need.
ONE GALLON OF HOPE Tori Kowal, of Omaha, Nebraska, first donated blood at her school on what happened to be her 16th birthday – January 18, 2013. She had seen her grandparents battle cancer and had witnessed a car accident in which the victims needed blood. Rolling up a sleeve seemed like a natural way to help.
“They always talk about service at school,” Tori said. “This is such an easy way to serve. It takes barely any time, and it’s a really good feeling to know I was able to help someone else.”
Tori made it her mission to donate as often as she can. She reached her one gallon donation this past February, just one month after turning 18. Tori wishes to reach further milestones to help turn her gallons of donations into hope for patients in need.
“As long as I’m eligible, I’ll always be back. Just trying to give as much as I can.”
WINTER WEATHER AFFECTS DONATIONS Red Cross Month comes at a time when winter weather can affect blood and platelet donations. Since February 1, more than 800 Red Cross blood drives in 27 states were canceled because of inclement weather, resulting in more than 27,300 uncollected blood and platelet donations. Eligible blood and platelet donors who live in areas where it is safe to travel are encouraged to make an appointment to give now, and those in areas affected by severe weather are asked to make and keep appointments when it is safe to do so. Donors with blood types O negative, A negative and B negative are especially needed and are encouraged to donate double red cells where available.
Though winter weather may affect donations, hospital patients still need transfusions of blood and platelets. Donors with blood types O negative, A negative, B negative and platelet donors are especially needed.
The Red Cross relies on everyday heroes in communities across the nation to help ensure blood products are available for patients at approximately 2,600 hospitals nationwide. On average, the Red Cross must collect about 15,000 pints of blood every day to meet the needs of patients.
HOW TO DONATE 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.