By David Foust, American Red Cross volunteer
Volunteers, staff and most especially, selfless blood donors, gathered at the American Red Cross of Riverside County on September 11, 2021 to help collect much-needed blood for the community.
When asked why hold a blood drive on September 11, Lois Beckman, Executive Director of the Red Cross of Riverside County, responded, “We wanted to do something special today to remember and honor those who lost their lives on 9/11, and for those that continue to serve our communities, so by having this drive, and helping the community be better prepared for disasters, we feel this is a way to do that. Lifesaving blood is so important to our community.”
One such donor was Tricia Shields of Moreno Valley. Tricia had never donated blood to the Red Cross before. Even though she had registered at RedCrossBlood.org about a year earlier, COVID-19 restrictions and family illnesses prevented her from being eligible. An email from the Red Cross about today’s blood drive prompted her to go back online and register to donate. This was her chance to donate her lifesaving blood. During check-in and screening, staff became aware that she had the much-needed type O blood and asked her if she could be a “Power Red Donor.” Power Red is similar to a whole blood donation, except a special machine is used to allow you to safely donate two units of red blood cells during one donation while returning your plasma and platelets to you. Red blood cells are the most frequently used blood component and are needed by almost every type of patient requiring transfusion. Not only did Tricia donate critically needed red blood cells, but on the way out she learned how to perform hands-only CPR! Having just a basic understanding of CPR could also save a life. Thank you, Tricia!
Flora Haus is a board member for the Red Cross Riverside County, which helped organize the blood drive. She offered these thoughts: “On this day of all days, when my face leaks over those lost in my two hometowns, and for those whose lives are forever fractured, I so much wanted to be there with you all to honor them and affirm life. This is one of the many reasons the Red Cross mission is in my heart.”
The 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks is a reminder that the unimaginable can occur — and that Americans need to do everything they can to protect their neighbors by being ready for crises of any size. Emergencies can happen at any time, and everyone can do their part to be prepared.
Part of doing that is ensuring an adequate blood supply is available year-round. Blood can take up to three days to be tested, processed and made available for patients – so it’s the blood already on the shelves that helps save lives in an emergency.
If you would like to donate lifesaving blood in your community, visit RedCrossBlood.org to find a blood drive near you.