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Parents’ Gratitude for Blood Donors Highlights Summer Need

Parents’ Gratitude for Blood Donors Highlights Summer Need

People often ask, “Why should I donate blood?” Sometimes seeing the face of a person receiving blood is all it takes to inspire others to give. As donations continue to decline this summer, the American Red Cross asks eligible donors to remember 3-year-old Emily Stephenson and make an appointment to give blood or platelets as soon as possible.

EMILY’S STORY Emily was only a few days old when her parents, Amy and Wayne Stephenson, learned she had a genetic blood disorder which causes severe anemia. To remain healthy, Emily will require blood transfusions every six to eight weeks until she is at least 10 years old. She’s already received blood more than 30 times.

“Blood donation is the bridge between life and death for Emily, but it is also so much more,” said Amy Stephenson. “It is learning to ride a bike, going to her first dance, earning a diploma and walking down an aisle someday.”

The Red Cross partnered with the Stephenson family in a special video to put a face on the importance of blood donation. In the video “Emily’s Story: A Letter from Mom and Dad,” the Stephensons want to express eternal gratitude for those who roll up a sleeve to help Emily live.

“The process of donation may appear to be filled with anonymity, but we see a name in every unit Emily receives during a transfusion,” said Amy Stephenson. “While we do not know the donor, we can see your heart and we appreciate you.”

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 to prevent an emergency situation. 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, so donations are always needed. Donors with type AB blood are 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 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.

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 redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.