The American Red Cross estimates more than 500,000 blood donations will be needed this month to help hospital patients recover all over the United States.
The Red Cross provides blood products to nearly 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. Accident victims, as well as patients with cancer, sickle cell disease, blood disorders and other illnesses receive lifesaving transfusions every day. There is no substitute for blood and volunteer donors are the only source.
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to give blood. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.
Eligible blood donors are asked to please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive and to make an appointment.
Doug Hodgens knows the importance of having blood products available when a patient needs them. His young daughter Mikala has been diagnosed with leukemia and requires transfusions of platelets as part of her treatment.
When Hodgens took his daughter to a hospital in Kansas recently, the A-negative platelets she needed weren’t available. "They actually had to have some flown in from Omaha," he said.
Mikala’s father has now become a platelet donor and is urging others to join him. "I don't want other parents to go in there and hear them say, 'Sorry we don't have any blood,' " Hodgens said.
Before Mikala was diagnosed with leukemia in January, Hodgens was an occasional blood donor. "I wasn't a regular giver; I just gave whenever it came up," he said. "This is my first time being a regular."
Many patients who need platelets are undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplant and have weakened immune systems. A platelet dose from a single donor reduces the patient’s exposure to multiple donors and is therefore preferred by many physicians.
Platelet, or apheresis donations can take as long as two hours. A single platelet donation can provide enough platelets for a full therapeutic dose for a patient in need. Some platelet donations yield enough platelets for two or three therapeutic patients. By contrast, it takes four to six whole blood donations to produce a single therapeutic dose.
If you are interested in donating platelets for a patient in need, call 1-800-RED-CROSS for platelet donation opportunities at a local American Red Cross Blood Donation Center near you.