As many people celebrate Valentine’s Day, the American Red Cross encourages eligible blood and platelet donors to give the ultimate gift of love – the gift of life. What better time to roll up a sleeve and help make up the winter donation shortfall than around the holiday that celebrates love?
LOVE AND DEDICATED DONORS Paul and Colita Kwiatkowski, of Omaha, Nebraska, have been married 58 years. Part of what keeps them connected as a couple is their dedication as Red Cross platelet donors. Platelets are a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, burn victims and bone marrow recipients. Throughout much of their marriage, Paul and Colita donate platelets together every two weeks at the Red Cross Omaha Blood Donation Center.
“It’s just a good thing that we enjoy doing together,” said Colita. “I would encourage others to bring a loved one or friend, too, because it adds to the overall [donation] experience to be able to share it with someone you love.”
WINTER WEATHER AFFECTS DONATIONS Since January 1, more than 350 Red Cross blood drives in two dozen states were canceled because of inclement weather, resulting in more than 11,800 uncollected blood and platelet donations. Eligible 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.
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. Each appointment kept, and each donation given, offers hope to a patient in need.
Platelets must be transfused within five days of donation. It’s important that eligible platelet donors give as often as possible to help ensure this potentially lifesaving blood product is available for patients whenever and wherever needed.
Platelet donors can roll up a sleeve every seven days, up to 24 times year. Whole blood can be safely donated every 56 days. 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.