The American Red Cross (ARC) has issued an emergency call for blood and platelet donors after about 37,000 fewer donations were given in November and December than expected, including more than 2,000 here in the Connecticut Blood Services Region. Donations are critically needed now so that patients can continue to receive lifesaving treatments, according to Connecticut’s ARC spokesperson Aly Bazarra.
The emergency call for blood donors to make a donation appointment is designed to help save patient lives. Nearly 90 blood drives were forced to cancel in December, resulting in more than 3,000 blood donations going uncollected.
“Blood and platelet donations are critically needed in the coming days so that patients can continue to receive the lifesaving treatments they are counting on,” said Barraza of the Connecticut Red Cross Blood Services Region. “We encourage donors to invite a family member or friend to donate with them to help meet patient needs. Right now, blood and platelet donations are being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in.”
How to help
To find a blood donation opportunity and schedule an appointment to donate by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800- RED CROSS (1-800- 733-2767).
With winter bringing the occasional inclement weather, the ARC is looking to rebuild their supply of blood.
“As we have seen this weekend, winter weather is upon us and could have an impact on donations in the future this season. That’s why it’s so important to keep a robust blood supply. It’s the blood on the shelves today that can help in an emergency tomorrow,” said Barraza.
The Red Cross is extending hours at many donation sites for more donors to give blood or platelets. Overall, the Red Cross has added nearly 200 hours to blood donation centers and community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks. Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help speed up the donation process.
“In about an hour, you can help save someone’s life. This simple act can have a profound impact on another human being,” said Barraza.
The ARC is looking to collect as many donations as possible, but Barraza explained that one type of blood is especially requested.
“The Red Cross welcomes donors of all types of blood to help give the gift of life during this time of emergency need. Hospital patients need access to many different types of blood, however, we especially encourage our O-negative donors to give when possible,” said Barraza. “O negative is the universal blood type and can be administered to patients when time is of the essence (like in trauma situations) and there may not by time to right type or match a patient’s blood type.”
Donors can also always find a full list of upcoming drives in any area by logging on to redcrossblood.org and typing in their zip code. From there, donors are able to choose their own search radius to find drives that may fit their schedule, but may be located a little further out.
Aside from adding extra hours to drives and donations centers and helping to spread the message of the severe winter blood shortage, the Red Cross is offering donors an incentive during the month of January.
“January is National Blood Donor Month and the Red Cross has partnered once again with Dunkin’ Donuts to offer blood and platelet donors in Connecticut a $5 Dunkin’ Donuts card as a thank you for lending an arm!” said Barraza.
Who do the blood donations help?
Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood, according to the American Red Cross website. Accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease may all require blood to save their lives.
Upcoming blood donation opportunities
1/13/2017: 8 a.m. – 1:45 p.m., R.D. Scinto Towers, 2 Corporate Drive