While summer time fun is in full effect, the American Red Cross reminds individuals to take time to help hospital patients counting on blood and platelet donations. Every day this summer is a chance to give hope to patients by making an appointment to give the gift of life. Without lifesaving blood, patients like Peter Zucca, of Harleysville, Pennsylvania, wouldn’t be alive to share their stories.
PETER POWERHOUSE Not many 12-year-olds are considered powerhouses, but Peter can be called one. Peter was diagnosed with pediatric cancer at 10 months old and received more than 50 blood transfusions before his second birthday. In May 2013, his right leg had to be amputated above the knee because of a tumor. For a boy who loves to swim and play baseball, it was devastating; but Peter didn’t give up.
“I don’t have words for how brave my son is – he’s unbelievable,” said Peter’s mom Dawn Zucca. “Peter is the bravest child I know, and he’s my hero.”
PAYING IT FORWARD Now that Peter conquered cancer, he has made it his mission to pay it forward by helping other children who face similar life-threatening illnesses. He decided to host Red Cross blood drives to help ensure other patients have the blood they need. Peter’s recent drive collected more than 100 blood donations. He also formed The Peter Powerhouse Foundation which raises donations for pediatric cancer treatment facilities and contributes financial support to researchers to improve the lives of childhood cancer survivors.
“My son is my life. I can't imagine a single day without him in it, said Dawn. “I wish that I could share his sweet face and generous heart with every person that has ever donated blood. I wish that each donor could see the amazing life that they helped save; they have provided the gift that allowed him to fight his cancer and the opportunity to improve the lives of other cancer kids.”
DONORS NEEDED NOW All eligible donors are encouraged to make and keep donation appointments this month to help restock the shelves to ensure an adequate blood supply for patients all summer long. Blood and platelet donations often decline during the summer when schools are out of session and regular donors are on vacation. Donors of all blood types are currently needed, especially those with types AB, O negative, B negative and A negative blood. Platelet donors are also needed.
“Everyone has an hour to spare to help save the life of another,” said Dawn. “Even if you are afraid of needles or the way you might feel during or after your donation, the person receiving your blood is sicker and more afraid than you could ever be.”
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.