You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Giving Back After Receiving the Ultimate Gift

Carolyn Strzalka, President of the Red Cross Club at the University of Michigan, is a blood recipient, a donor and a Red Cross volunteer.

Carolyn Strzalka, President of the Red Cross Club at the University of Michigan, is a blood recipient, a donor and a Red Cross volunteer.

I am beyond thankful for the blood donors whose donations have allowed me to be alive today.

The urgent need for many blood types continues this summer, and the American Red Cross asks individuals considering donating to make an appointment today. While many are enjoying the fun of summer, hospital patients are counting on others to give hope with a lifesaving blood or platelet donation.

THE GIFT OF LIFE As the captain of her high school soccer team, Carolyn Strzalka was a healthy teen and never imagined she would need blood. After Carolyn began having sharp abdominal pains, her gall bladder was removed two days before moving into college. But Carolyn continued to have pain after she arrived on campus. She was taken to the emergency room where she learned she had been bleeding internally. Carolyn received two blood transfusions to help her survive.

“I am beyond thankful for the blood donors whose donations have allowed me to be alive today,” said blood recipient Carolyn Strzalka. “These donors have a special place in my heart because I have type O negative blood and can only receive blood from other type O negative people.”

GIVING BACK After Carolyn’s experience, she wanted to give back as a way to thank blood donors who helped save her life. She began volunteering at blood drives to let people know how much their donation meant to her. Carolyn also serves as president of the Red Cross Club at the University of Michigan.

“While volunteering I got to hear inspiring stories about why other people donated blood, including stories from people who donate blood every 56 days,” said Carolyn. “After experiencing the need for blood donations firsthand, I now am inspired to donate every 56 days as well.”

MANY BLOOD TYPES URGENTLY NEEDED NOW The Red Cross has an urgent need for eligible blood donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood to give now. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to patients with any blood type. Types A negative and B negative can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients. Individuals with these blood types are urged to make and keep donation appointments as soon as possible to help replenish the blood supply.

Platelet donors and those with type AB blood are also continually needed to help ensure the shelves are stocked for patients in need. Platelets – a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, surgical patients and bone marrow recipients – must be transfused within five days of donation. Donors with type AB blood are also urgently needed to restock the plasma supply. Type AB donors have the universal plasma type, which can be given to patients of all blood types. Plasma is often needed for burn, trauma and clotting deficiency patients. Plasma can be collected during a blood or platelet donation.

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. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.

For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate blood, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit 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 or, or by texting BLOODAPP to 90999 for a direct link to download. Message and data rates for texting may apply.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.