During Black History Month this February, the American Red Cross honors the significant achievements of Black Americans and the vital role blood donations from individuals who are Black play in meeting the transfusion needs of patients and those with sickle cell disease. Donors are urged to book a time to give blood or platelets this month to prevent a shortage in the weeks ahead.
With the theme “Black Excellence Is In Our Blood,” the Red Cross also commemorates the vibrant legacies of history makers whose contributions continue to advance our communities and lifesaving mission:
- Dr. Charles R. Drew, a surgeon and pioneer of modern blood banking, was named the first medical director of the Red Cross National Blood Collection Program in 1941. His work with the Red Cross helped save the lives of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians during World War II and his efforts to increase the blood supply led to the use of bloodmobiles and other collection, preservation and distribution processes still used today.
- Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, an educator and civil rights leader, helped usher in a sustained presence of Black Americans in the mission of the Red Cross. She hosted blood drives and encouraged African American women to staff canteens. During World War II, Dr. Bethune served as director of the Florida Chapter of the Red Cross. She advocated for employment opportunities, disaster relief and diverse representation on Red Cross regional and national boards.
- Dr. Jerome Holland, educator and former U.S. ambassador to Sweden, continued the legacies of Dr. Drew and Dr. Bethune when he was appointed as the first African American chairman of the Red Cross Board of Governors in 1979. Dr. Holland championed excellence in blood services through innovative technology, which resulted in increased blood donations and research of hereditary diseases.
Commemorate Black History Month by rolling up a sleeve to give blood or platelets. Use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org/OurBlood or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to schedule an appointment today. All who come to give blood, platelets or plasma Feb. 1-28, will receive a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card by email, thanks to Amazon. Join the Red Cross in elevating Black Excellence during Black History Month: Discover and support Black-owned businesses on Amazon! Plus, those who come to donate will also be automatically entered for a chance to win a trip for two to Clearwater Beach, Florida, including a three-night hotel stay, round-trip airfare, a $750 gift card and more.*
How to donate blood
Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information. 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.