The winter storm season has commenced with a fury. The nor’easter slamed portions of the east coast earlier this week with heavy snow and ice, causing dangerous conditions for many. It’s also canceled many essential blood drives—especially in the northeast—further challenging the ability of the American Red Cross to collect lifesaving blood products during this critical time of year.
Right now, the Red Cross is urging individuals in unaffected areas to pitch in and schedule an appointment to give blood to help meet all patient needs across the country by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Digging out of severe winter weather can take days, and prevents those impacted from resuming their ordinary schedules, which can include blood donation. Adding to the challenge is the fact that weather models predict there are more storms to come. However, during a year when the Red Cross has seen drastic blood drive and blood donation cancellations, as a result of the coronavirus, there is hardly room for an additional snowball of reduced blood collections.
Historically, the holiday season is a challenging time of year for folks to make time to give, yet the need for donors of all blood types remains constant. Every day the Red Cross must collect more than 2,700 platelet and about 12,500 blood donations for patients, who are currently undergoing medical procedures and treatments, and are alone without the bedside support of loved ones, at about 2,500 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide.
COVID-19 Blood Donation Safety
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are encouraged to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.
All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification, are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), 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.
Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.