November is National Veterans and Military Families Month — a time to honor and recognize the sacrifices of service members and their families who support their loved ones in uniform. Donating blood in honor of these heroes and their families is an essential way to recognize their contributions to our country while also helping to combat the current emergency blood shortage affecting service members and civilians alike.
Military family members like Kyshira Simmons know firsthand the unique joys and challenges of frequent deployments as well as the importance of a readily-available blood supply for veterans and those currently serving their country. In 2007, her mother Quitasha Simmons who has served 24 years in the U.S. Navy, needed a lifesaving blood transfusion after undergoing a C-section while giving birth to Kyshira’s youngest brother, Armann.
“She lost a lot of blood and was close to losing her life,” said Kyshira. “However, due to the success of the blood transfusion, she was able to stay alive to continue serving as our mother and serving our country.”
People across the country depend on the generosity of blood donors. Like many military members, Kyshira’s mother has been a long-time blood donor who takes pride in helping support those in need.
“Being able to live and experience a mother who desires to care not only for her family, but the wellbeing of her country serves as daily inspiration to have goals bigger than myself,” said Kyshira.
Recently completing her master’s degree in industrial-organizational Psychology, one of Kyshira’s goals includes becoming a blood donor.
“To be a military child means being a part of a community that is larger than yourself,” said Kyshira. “Knowing the impact that blood donations have had on my own life and family is inspiring. Without blood donors, the difference between my younger brother knowing our mother
as opposed to living through memories that my sister and I would have to share with him hits close to home.”
With the holidays approaching, the Red Cross urges donors to make and keep appointments now and in the weeks ahead to avoid impacts to patient care. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
All who come to give blood, platelets or plasma Nov. 1-23 will receive a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card via email, courtesy of Amazon*. Those who come to give around the Thanksgiving holiday, Nov. 24-28, will receive a pair of Red Cross socks, while supplies last.
Blood drive safety
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including face masks for donors and staff, regardless of vaccination status – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive.
Save time during donation
Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®. With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.
To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that 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.
Health insights for donors
At a time when health information has never been more important, the Red Cross is screening all blood, platelet and plasma donations from self-identified African American donors for the sickle cell trait. This additional screening will provide Black donors with an additional health insight and help the Red Cross identify compatible blood types more quickly to help patients with sickle cell disease who require trait-negative blood. Blood transfusion is an essential treatment for those with sickle cell disease, and blood donations from individuals of the same race, ethnicity and blood type have a unique ability to help patients fighting sickle cell disease.
Donors can expect to receive sickle cell trait screening results, if applicable, within one to two weeks through the Red Cross Blood Donor App and the online donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.
*Restrictions apply, see amazon.com/gc-legal.