The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage as the number of canceled blood drives grows at an alarming rate due to coronavirus disease 2019. Through March 19, more than 5,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country, resulting in some 170,000 fewer blood donations. Low blood inventories can jeopardize the care of accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.
Healthy, eligible individuals are needed now to give in the days ahead to help patients counting on lifesaving blood throughout this pandemic. If you are healthy and feeling well schedule an appointment to give blood with the American Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or activating the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.
Extra Precautions Keep Blood Donors Safe
Now more than ever, the Red Cross is counting on the generosity of everyday heroes to donate blood to help save lives and support the Red Cross mission during this unprecedented public health crisis. While the need for lifesaving blood products is constant, the safety of blood donors and Red Cross staff remains top-of-mind.
As a result, additional precautions have been established in response to coronavirus including:
- Checking temperatures of staff and donors before entering a drive to ensure they are healthy.
- Providing hand sanitizer for use before entering the blood drive and throughout the donation process.
- Spacing beds, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between blood donors.
Red Cross employees always follow strict safety procedures to prevent the spread of any infection to keep donors safe:
- Wearing gloves and changing them often.
- Wiping down all donor-touched surfaces and equipment.
- Preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.
Patients in Need Rely on Volunteer Transportation Specialists
Nearly 372,000 individuals volunteer time to support the Red Cross mission. Once blood donations are collected, John Montgomery is one of many that ensure patients have access to safe, lifesaving blood and blood products as a Volunteer Transportation Specialist.
For close to five years, Montgomery has dedicated three days a week to guarantee that blood gets delivered to and picked up from Red Cross laboratories, blood drives and hospitals. He maps out his route through the city and gets going. His passion is fueled by the trust and faith that patients in need have in the volunteers that donate lifesaving blood and those that are tasked with delivering it.
“I don’t do it for the recognition. That’s not why I’m into it. When I deliver that blood, because of my experiences I see faces of people that are going to be kept alive because of this,” says Montgomery.
For more information on how to become a Volunteer Transportation Specialist or to explore volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross please click here.
What You Need to Know Before Donating Blood
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 must meet certain height and weight requirements.
Three tips to ensure a successful blood donation:
- Enjoy a protein rich meal
- Hydrate and Be Well Rested
- Wear a comfortable shirt with sleeves that can be rolled up easily
Individuals unable to donate blood, are urged to encourage a family member or friend to donate in their place. Or you can help by being a volunteer at blood drives.
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 Red Cross Blood Donor App.