The American Red Cross Minnesota and Dakotas Region is pleased to announce the Red Cross Mary Coultrap Johnson Blood and Platelet Donation Center, 100 S. Robert St., opened for blood and platelet donations on October 15. The center is named in honor of Mary Coultrap Johnson, a cancer patient, dedicated volunteer and philanthropist for many organizations, including the Red Cross.
“We’re incredibly proud of this new blood donation center,” said Bob Bruce, regional donor services executive with the Red Cross Minnesota and Dakotas Region. “Having a community blood donation site is important to help the Red Cross attract and retain dedicated blood donors, staff and volunteers who are critical for supporting patients who need lifesaving blood and platelet transfusions.”
Right now, the American Red Cross is facing a national blood crisis – its worst blood shortage in more than a decade. Dangerously low blood supply levels are posing a concerning risk to patient care and forcing doctors to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available.
The $2 million renovation project consolidated and reduced underutilized space in two Red Cross buildings. This investment created an upgraded blood donation center including an 8,000 square foot blood donation center with 12 whole blood donor beds, 15 apheresis donor beds (used for platelet and plasma donations), two leukapheresis donor beds (used for white blood cell donations) and ten health history rooms. Enhancements also include the addition of a modern training area for staff and volunteers from throughout the region.
The apheresis donor room, where platelets are collected, will house the most apheresis machines of any of the more than 170 Red Cross donation centers in the nation. Platelets play a critical role in the treatment of millions of people fighting cancer and other chronic diseases, as well as those recovering from traumatic injuries.
While the Red Cross building housing the new donation center may look like a modest-sized office building from the outside, it is also home to more than 300 Red Cross Blood Services staff and is the third largest of 24 Red Cross manufacturing and distribution centers for blood products in the country. Annually, it processes more than 686,000 units of lifesaving blood products, which are then transported to more than 100 hospitals in the Minnesota and Dakotas Region (Minnesota, eastern South and North Dakota and western Wisconsin) and to about 2,500 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country.
Brenda L. Johnson was the lead financial supporter of this project. “My mother’s approach to philanthropy was always to do good because it was the right thing to do,” says Brenda Johnson. “She hoped her contributions and service would invite and inspire others to give. The new blood donation center honors her legacy of giving back.”
Additional financial contributors include HealthPartners, Ecolab Foundation, Minnesota & Dakotas Region Tiffany Circle, George and Diane Power, Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation, Twin Cities Area Board of Directors, The Harry Wahlquist Family & Star Bank, Xcel Energy and several others. Areas of the building are named in their honor to recognize their donations. Their generous gifts will be invested to support Red Cross Blood Services including collection, processing and delivery of blood products to patients in need.
“We’re profoundly grateful for the generosity of our financial supporters who helped make this project a reality,” said Bruce. “Their donations are a substantial investment in the lives of patients near and far.”
About blood donation
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. To get started, use the Blood Donor App or follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass.
To celebrate the completion of the project, the Red Cross created a video showcasing the new space. Watch the video here or for more information and photos of the new Red Cross Mary Coultrap Johnson Blood and Donation Center, please visit: bit.ly/SaintPaulDonorCenter.