When the Lifesaving Gift of Blood Hits Close to Home

Hanlon Family poses
I saw the difference in him. I knew someone had saved his life.

There are a number of different patients who might need the lifesaving gift of blood – an accident victim, someone who lives with sickle cell disease, a cancer patient – just to name a few. Nurse Sara Hanlon sees the need firsthand on her job. Sara cares for mothers experiencing complications from childbirth and premature babies. Her patients often require blood products.

CLOSE TO HOME Sara never imagined her husband Mike would be among the patients in her life to need blood when he had knee replacement surgery at the Mayo Clinic. However, due to an underlying condition, Mike experienced serious complications after surgery and needed four units of blood to survive.

“It was scary to think that someone else’s blood was going into my husband,” said Sara. “But I saw the difference in him. I knew someone had saved his life.”

DON’T WAIT As the urgent need for blood and platelets remains this summer, the American Red Cross asks individuals considering donating to not wait any longer. Think about who could potentially benefit – a spouse, parent, child or friend – someone like Mike could need blood at any given moment.

Donations through the Red Cross were down approximately 8 percent from the beginning of May through mid-July, resulting in about 80,000 fewer donations than anticipated. Since the urgent need for blood began late last month, the Red Cross has seen an increase of approximately 7 percent in the number of donors coming to give blood, resulting in more than 10,700 additional units from what was expected.

While the Red Cross is grateful for those who stepped up to give this lifesaving gift, hospital patients are still counting on generous donors to roll up a sleeve and help prevent a summer shortage. Donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative are especially needed now.

Blood can be safely donated every 56 days. Individuals who donated blood earlier this summer may now be eligible to donate again. 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.

For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate blood, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org.

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 visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.