Blood products are being distributed to hospitals almost as quickly as donations are coming in. While thousands of people have responded to the recent emergency call for blood and platelet donations from the American Red Cross, there remains an urgent need for platelet donors, as well as donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood.
As July comes to a close and August begins, the Red Cross is asking eligible donors to give blood or platelets as soon as possible. Donations have increased by about 15 percent since the emergency call for donors was issued on July 9, but the middle and end of the month mark only the halfway point to the challenging summer. The summer is historically one of the most difficult times of year for blood and platelet donations. While some donors are still enjoying summer activities, patients are unable to take a vacation from needing lifesaving transfusions.
Many donors have a personal reason for rolling up a sleeve.
MEET MOLLY It wasn't until she was nearly 30 years old that Molly donated blood for the first time. The Bloomington, Ill., community member helped hand out snacks during blood drives at her high school, but that was the extent of her involvement because of her fear of needles.
“It was a happy, funny, wonderful father, husband and coworker named Jerry that changed it all for me,” Molly said.
Jerry was Molly’s manager at work. She said Jerry spent every spare moment he could with his wife and three daughters. “As a young woman who wasn't close to her father, I often thought how blessed his girls were,” she said. When Jerry fell ill with a rare form of leukemia, his 6-plus foot linebacker frame quickly began to change. He was forced to miss work and his staff eagerly awaited updates and letters on Jerry’s progress.
“It's the last letter I think about every single time I've walked in to give blood since,” Molly said. “Jerry said 'Don't send me flowers. Don't send me cards or gifts. Give blood. I've used so much blood, so please help someone else like me and give.’”
The first time Molly donated was at an employee blood drive held in honor of Jerry. Sadly, just a short month later, Jerry lost his battle with leukemia. “Every time I've given blood, it's been for Jerry. That little bit of pain, being tired that whole day after, that time away from my busy workload: it all seems like nothing when I think about Jerry.” Molly hopes her former boss and friend is smiling, knowing how much of an impact he has had on her and the many others who will benefit from his plea to give blood. “From all of us -- even those who will never know what you’ve done -- thank you Jerry.”
HOW TO GIVE For more information about donating blood, or to make an appointment to donate blood or platelets, please visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Individuals who are at least 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in 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.