Red Cross initiative aims to increase blood availability for patients with sickle cell disease

Blood transfusions from donors who are Black may provide best outcomes for patients

When patients living with sickle cell disease face a sickle cell crisis, blood transfusions can make a lifesaving difference. That’s why the American Red Cross has launched an initiative to grow the number of blood donors who are Black to help patients with sickle cell disease, an enduring and often invisible health disparity in the U.S.

Bridget C_Miller Harper_Photo

Over 100,000 people in the U.S. have sickle cell disease, the most common inherited blood disorder, and the majority of patients are of African descent. Despite the discovery of the disease more than a century ago, there have been fewer health resources available to help those currently suffering from sickle cell crisis in comparison to similar diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with sickle cell disease experience worse health outcomes than comparable diseases.

A closer blood match leads to better outcomes

Many patients with sickle cell disease will require regular blood transfusions to help manage their disease. Glinda Dames-Fincher, of Mayfield Heights, has lived with sickle cell disease for more than 60 years. She receives monthly red cell exchange transfusions as part of her treatment.

Unfortunately, these patients may develop an immune response against blood from donors that is not closely matched to their own. Many individuals who are Black have distinct markers on their red blood cells that make their donations ideal for helping patients with sickle cell disease. More than half of blood donors who are Black have blood that is free of C, E and K antigens – making them the best match for those with sickle cell disease.

Life-threatening complications

Sickle cell disease distorts soft, round blood cells and turns them hard and crescent-shaped, which can cause extreme pain. When hardened, the cells can get caught in blood vessels, potentially leading to stroke and organ failure.

“Transfusions provide healthy blood cells, unblocking blood vessels and delivering oxygen,” said Dr. James Westra, Red Cross regional medical director. “By increasing the amount of closely matched blood products, the Red Cross is able to help ensure the right blood product is available at the right time for patients facing a sickle cell crisis – minimizing complications for those with rare blood types fighting sickle cell disease.” makenzie-nance-002

Cleveland teenager Makenzie Nance was a preschooler when she received her first blood transfusion to help overcome complications from sickle cell disease. She visits local high schools to educate students about sickle cell disease and her family hosts blood drives to encourage more Black donors to give. You can read Makenzie’s story here.

The Red Cross asks members of the Black community to join in helping to address this health disparity and meet the needs of patients with sickle cell disease. Donors can take action today by scheduling a blood donation appointment at RedCrossBlood.org, by downloading the Blood Donor App or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS. To help tackle the need for blood in September – Sickle Cell Awareness Month − all donors who come to give with the Red Cross Sept. 13-30 will receive a limited-edition football-themed T-shirt, while supplies last. 

 

 

“This is something I am proud of!”

Blood and platelet donor reaches a milestone

By Chris Chmura, American Red Cross volunteer

It’s not every day you meet a real hero…

The American Red Cross would like to thank Paul Giltz for 75 lifesaving donations.

We consider Paul a hero. 

Paul Giltz

“All my life I have heard stories of people who rushed into burning buildings or lifted cars off people with their bare hands to save the lives of complete strangers. When they are given awards they almost always say, ‘I’m no hero, something had to be done and I did it.’ I have never been called upon to do something like that. The American Red Cross is awarding me for donating 75 times! I am no hero. But I came to realize that I was saving the lives of complete strangers just as those others have. By now, perhaps dozens of strangers were given another chance by my donations. This is a good feeling, this is something I AM PROUD OF!” – Paul Giltz

Paul started his commitment and Red Cross journey while attending college. His inspiration to donate comes from people that have passed in his life, personally knowing he is helping others and from those who can’t donate. Paul has friends who cannot donate due to health reasons and veterans who have been advised not to donate. He views his donation as a tribute to these important people in his life. 

His 75 donations have been made in different ways, but he now prefers to donate platelets. Paul’s schedule allows him to take the time needed to donate platelets (and watch a movie!). Why? He has learned that this type of donation is easier on his system personally. 

He prefers to make his donations at the Executive Parkway Red Cross donation center in Toledo because of the supportive, friendly staff. Paul schedules his appointments using the Red Cross app or in person during a donation. “I know that a lot of people don’t have a flexible schedule or have the time like myself.”

Paul received an American Red Cross milestone pin to celebrate his 75th donation, which included 83 units to help make a true difference in the lives of others.

Facts About Blood Needs

  • Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood and or platelets. 
  • Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U. S. 
  • Nearly 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed daily in the U.S. 
  • Less than 38 percent of the population is eligible to give blood or platelets.
  • Nearly 21 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
  • Sickle cell disease affects 90,000 to 100,000 people in the U.S. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year. Sickle cell patients can require blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 units.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 units of blood.
  • Blood and platelets cannot be manufactured; they can only come from volunteer donors.
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is type O.
  • One donation can potentially save up to three lives.

    Have you considered donating to the American Red Cross? We have multiple ways for you to support us through various donations and volunteering. For more information, visit RedCrossBlood.org or RedCross.org/volunteer.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Local volunteers and blood donors needed for busy disaster season

Many weather experts predict a destructive wildfire and hurricane season this year. The American Red Cross needs volunteers to help people who are affected by these disasters.

“We’re preparing for another extremely busy disaster season, and it’s critical to have a trained, ready volunteer workforce to make sure we can provide relief at a moment’s notice,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio. “This year’s wildfire season is already very active and dangerous because of the severe drought and dry woodlands across the west. And experts are predicting we could see 10 or more hurricanes in the upcoming weeks.”

“We’re preparing for another extremely busy disaster season, and it’s critical to have a trained, ready volunteer workforce to make sure we can provide relief at a moment’s notice.”

Mike Parks, Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

SHELTER VOLUNTEERS AND HEALTH PROFESSIONALS NEEDED

The Red Cross needs new volunteers to support disaster shelters. Volunteers will help with reception, registration, food distribution, dormitory, information collection and other vital tasks inside disaster shelters. Both entry and supervisory-level opportunities are available.

The Red Cross also needs volunteers who can work in disaster shelters to address people’s health needs and provide hands-on care in alignment with their professional licensure (registered nurse and licensed practical nurse/licensed vocational nurse). Daily observation and health screening for COVID-19-like illness among shelter residents may also be required. If you are an RN, LPN, LVN, APRN, NP, EMT, paramedic, MD/DO or PA with a current and unencumbered license, this position could be right for you.

Red Cross volunteer Dave Wagner looks out damage from the Dixie Fire on the outskirts of Greenville, CA, a small town that was devastated by the fire on Saturday, August 7, 2021. Many of the evacuated residents found shelter with the Red Cross in nearby Quincy and Susanville, CA.
Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

DISASTER ACTION TEAM MEMBER

Local Disaster Action Teams provide 24-hour emergency response to local disasters, particularly home fires, ensuring that those affected have access to resources for basic necessities such as food, shelter and clothing. If you are team-oriented and want to help your neighbor, the DAT responder may be just the thing for you.

Disaster Action Team members from Northern Ohio respond to a fire in Lakewood on Aug. 4, 2021.

At 1 p.m. today, the Red Cross will host a Facebook Live event where our experts will discuss the various volunteer roles and how you can get involved in helping families after disasters here locally and across the country. Tune in to learn more and get your volunteer questions answered.

Last year, the Northern Ohio Region provided immediate emergency assistance to more than 5,100 people after nearly 1,200 home fires and other disasters.

If you can’t join us this afternoon but are interested in helping your community when disasters occur, you can sign up online or contact our area offices at 216-431-3328 or neovolunteer@redcross.org.

BLOOD AND PLATELET DONORS NEEDED

Wildfires, record-breaking heat and a busy hurricane season can also impact the nation’s blood supply. On top of the toll extreme weather events take on the lives of millions, disasters can cause blood drive closures or prevent donors from being able to give safely. Eligible donors can help overcome the critical need for blood and ensure blood is readily available by making an appointment to give by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Browns fans step up to help address severe blood shortage at annual Cleveland Browns Blood Drive

For Cleveland Browns fans across northeast Ohio, the opening of Training Camp this past weekend was a welcome site after COVID-19 disrupted so much last season. And, while lots of exciting action was taking place in Berea, fans across Northern Ohio were also showing their love for the hometown team by helping save lives.

The annual Cleveland Browns Blood Drive was held this past weekend at 12 locations across northern Ohio. The blood drive is part of Browns Training Camp weekend each year and is one of the largest blood drives in the region. This year was no exception. Fans stepped up in a big way to help address a continuing severe blood shortage, donating 571 pints which have the potential to help more than 1,700 patients, as each pint can help up to three individuals.

Many fans came to give at FirstEnergy stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns. Christopher Haddock, of Euclid, is the city Fire Chief and knows firsthand the importance of giving blood. “I was in a car crash in 2006 and needed 15 pints of blood. I’m giving back,” said Haddock. “And I bleed orange and brown.”

Chris Haddock donates blood at FirstEnergy Stadium during the Cleveland Browns Blood Drive July 31
Bridget C. Miller Harper gives blood during the annual
Cleveland Browns Blood Drive

Bridget C. Miller Harper works in the transplant department at University Hospitals. “My mom taught me to give back,” she said. “I feel I’m giving back to my patients.”

Shelby Kulick, Therese Kaye and Abigail Seaman began donating blood together while in college at Baldwin Wallace. Back then, they received free burritos after giving. Even though there’s no more free food, the friends continue to donate together.

Shelby Kulick, Therese Kaye and Abigail Seaman at FirstEnergy Stadium
for the Cleveland Browns Blood Drive

The support of the Cleveland Browns and their fans was crucial as the Red Cross continues to face a severe blood shortage and has an emergency need for donors. For those who couldn’t give blood this past weekend, the Red Cross urges donors of all blood types – especially type O and those giving platelets – to make an appointment to give now to help ensure hospital shelves are stocked with blood products to meet patient needs.

During the month of August, the Red Cross is partnering with the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and Apple Music for two different promotions to encourage more people to come and give. Read our recent blog post to learn more. And, to see more photos from this past weekend, check out our Flickr album. To find a blood drive near you or for more information, visit RedCrossBlood.org. Go Browns!

Give blood early in August, get chance at music festival tickets, help build supply during shortage

By: Olivia Wyles, American Red Cross volunteer

If you are as big of a music-lover as I am, then you likely share in my excitement for public concerts returning this summer for the first time in over a year. The music industry is bursting at the seams with music ready to be performed.

This year, the American Red Cross is partnering with Bonnaroo to give away free tickets to this sold-out music festival, which will be held in Manchester, Tennessee, the first weekend of September 2021. By donating blood at a Red Cross drive Aug. 1-15, you will be entered to win an all-expenses paid trip to Bonnaroo for two. Various genres of music can be heard at Bonnaroo over the course of the four-day festival from pop and alternative rock to jazz, country and gospel. For more information on the offer, click here.

The Red Cross is one of the primary suppliers of blood for hospitals throughout the U.S. but currently has a dire need for blood donations. Right now, the Red Cross is distributing 12% more blood to hospitals than distributed at this time last year, which is contributing to the severe blood shortage that we are currently experiencing. This shortage affects every region, including Northern Ohio.

Leaders of several major hospitals are lending their voices to the call for increased blood donations.

“Our nation is facing a critical blood shortage,” said Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., CEO and President of Cleveland Clinic. “In this time of need, we urge the community to donate so we can ensure we have lifesaving blood products for patients.”

Dr. Mihaljevic added, “One person can help save hundreds of lives. At Cleveland Clinic, we support blood drives all year long and encourage everyone who is able to give blood and get involved.”

MetroHealth President and CEO Akram Boutros, MD, FACHE, said, “An adequate blood supply is essential to perform our life-saving work at MetroHealth as the region’s most experienced Level 1 Trauma Center.” Dr. Boutros added, “Every day, blood donors help save countless lives in Cleveland and beyond – the lives of our family, friends and neighbors. It’s time for us all to step up for our community and donate this precious resource.”

“Every day, blood donors help save countless lives in Cleveland and beyond – the lives of our family friends and neighbors. It’s time for us all to step up for our community and donate this precious resource.”

Akram Boutros, MD, FACHE, MetroHealth President and CEO

Cliff Megerian, MD, CEO of University Hospitals said, “A blood donation, especially at such a critical time, can truly help save lives. As a provider of coordinated trauma care with Level 1 trauma centers for adults and children, as well as a network of regional Level III trauma centers, we at University Hospitals know how lives can change in an instant and the crucial importance of having adequate blood supplies for trauma and surgeries.  Please give if you’re able.”

Kristy Short, ProMedica blood bank manager in Toledo said, “The Red Cross is our primary source for blood. We have been working closely with them to keep our inventory levels stable so that we can continue to meet all our patients’ needs.” She added, “Our community is the key to helping end this shortage. We encourage all those who are eligible to donate and help save lives.”

And Richard L. George, MD, MSPH, FACS Chief, Division of Trauma ICU Surgical Director Summa Health System – Akron Campus, said, “Blood donations save lives. Having an adequate supply is essential to treat patients.” “As we continue to see a shortage of blood across the country, we encourage you to donate soon.”

To find a blood drive near you, click here. Encourage a friend or family member to do the same and help the Red Cross continue supplying lifesaving blood to patients around the country. You never know, maybe you’ll get to spend four days at the Bonnaroo music festival to top it all off!

Edited by: Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Donors continue to respond to blood shortage

It had been about five years since Ellen Eoff last donated blood. “I heard about the shortage,” she said as she rested on a donor bed at a recent blood drive at the Church of the Savior in Cleveland Heights. “I’m vaccinated and felt comfortable about donating blood again.”

Red Cross blood donor Ellen Eoff

Ellen was one of 44 people who donated at the blood drive, helping the American Red Cross address a severe blood shortage, as hospitals respond to an unusually high number of traumas and emergency room visits, organ transplants and elective surgeries.

In most cases, those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine – like Ellen – can donate. However, knowing the name of the manufacturer of the vaccine they received is important in determining donation eligibility.

Currently, the Red Cross needs to collect more than 1,000 additional blood donations each day to meet current demand. That’s why donations like Ellen’s are so important.

Red Cross blood donor Michael Melicoff and blood drive supervisor Shantel Haynes

“I donate for the public good,” said Michael Melincoff, who has been a Red Cross blood donor for more than 40 years. “I donate 2 to 4 times a year,” he said. He also makes financial donations in response to disasters.

Patricia Moyer said she’s working toward donating her second gallon of blood. “It was there when I needed it,” she said, referring to a past surgical procedure she experienced.

WEWS News 5 reporter Caroline Sweeney and photographer Anthony Garcia helped the Red Cross spread the word about the blood shortage by covering the blood drive. You can see their report here.

To thank donors who help refuel the blood and platelet supply this month, all who come to give July 7-31 will receive a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card via email and will also receive automatic entry for a chance to win gas for a year (a $5,000 value). More information and details are available at rcblood.org/fuel. Also, all those who come to donate throughout the entire month of July will be automatically entered for a chance to win a trip for four to Cedar Point or Knott’s Berry Farm. To learn more, visit rcblood.org/CedarFair.

Donors who give now will help stock the shelves for the rest of the summer season. Schedule an appointment to give blood or platelets by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Vaccinated and ready to travel?

Here are some things to check before you leave Northern Ohio

By: Doug Bardwell, Red Cross Volunteer

Travel restrictions have just been lifted for those who want to go to Europe, so it appears that travel season is about to switch into high gear here in Northern Ohio.  If you are planning a trip out of the country, there are a number of points you’ll want to check to ensure that it is a safe and enjoyable experience.   

Does your hospitalization cover you when you travel?  Some only work in this country, and some only with certain health organizations. Here’s a good reference. 

Driving? Will your car insurance cover you when you cross into Canada (probably) or into Mexico (probably not). Be sure to call your agent and verify. You also need to check if you’ll be renting a car – most local policies don’t cover rentals abroad.

And don’t forget to check very specifically about your cellphone rates outside the country. Many people didn’t check first, only to find out that international rates added thousands to their cellphone bill.   

Check your credit cards. Some issue surcharges for international transactions, while others do not. Also, avoid travelers’ cash exchanges at airports, which usually offer less advantageous conversion rates than banks in town.

Be sure to notify your credit card company about when you plan to be out of town (even in this country), so your cards are not held up pending “fraud protection” while you try to prove it’s really you buying shoes in Guadalajara.

Are you up to date on your vaccinations, malaria shots, tetanus shots, etc. Let your county health care professional know where you’ll be traveling and see if any additional shots are required. Here’s the link to Cuyahoga County’s board of health, but each county should have their own.

Are there any travel advisories issued by our State Department for the countries you plan to visit? You can sign up there for travel advisories.

Before you go, photograph or scan your passport, immunization record, any important medical information and emergency numbers for your credit cards and bank. Put it on a small USB flash drive that you can hide in your socks, just in case you are robbed.  Also leave a duplicate of the information with a friend or relative who is not traveling with you.

Lastly, before you go, make a blood donation appointment.  There’s a severe shortage right now, and the need is great.  If you’ve never donated before, you can load the Red Cross Blood app on your phone, and shortly after your donation, you’ll know what blood type you are. Then, while you are traveling, rest easy, knowing your donation can save up to three lives.

Click here for a printable checklist when you start your travel planning.

Red Cross facing severe blood shortage: Donors needed now

The American Red Cross is experiencing a severe blood shortage as the number of trauma cases, organ transplants and elective surgeries rise– and deplete the nation’s blood inventory. Donors of all blood types – especially type O and those giving platelets – are urged to make an appointment to give as soon as possible to prevent further impact to patients.

Right now, hospitals are responding to an atypically high number of traumas and emergency room visits, as well as overdoses and resulting transplants. In comparison to 2019, the Red Cross has seen demand from trauma centers climb by 10% in 2021− more than five times the growth of other facilities that provide blood transfusions.  

The Red Cross Northern Ohio Region appreciates the support of the local media, who have shared our need for blood and encouraged the community to come out now and help overcome the shortage. Read more at the links below:

WKYC – TV
WEWS-TV
WFMJ – TV
WKBN-TV
WNWO-TV
The Canton Repository
The Monroe News
Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune
WFIN Radio

In addition to trauma needs, there is a great hospital demand for blood as people who deferred care during the height of the pandemic present with more advanced disease progression, requiring increased blood transfusions. Over the last three months, the Red Cross has distributed about 75,000 more blood products than expected to meet these needs.

In most cases, those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine can donate. However, knowing the name of the manufacturer of the vaccine they received is important in determining donation eligibility.

Final weeks for COVID-19 antibody testing

As more than a third of Americans have become fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Red Cross is winding down COVID-19 antibody testing for blood, platelet and plasma donations. 

Through June 25, the Red Cross is testing all donations for COVID-19 antibodies. Testing may show possible exposure to the virus or whether a donor has developed an immune response to vaccination. The conclusion of Red Cross antibody testing represents a new, hopeful phase as the nation continues to journey out of this pandemic.  

Thanks to the donors who turned out in Twinsburg at the Cleveland Clinic blood drive on June 16, 2021. Their donations will help alleviate the current blood shortage.

The Red Cross of Northern Ohio hosts around 20 blood drives each day across the 30 counties we serve. Approximately 80 local hospitals in Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown and Toledo depend on us to help meet the blood transfusion needs of patients. Below are several upcoming blood drives across the region. Schedule an appointment to give blood now by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. As a thank-you, those who come to give now through June 30 will receive a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card via email, courtesy of Amazon. (Restrictions apply. Additional information and details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/Together.)  

Cleveland
June 25, 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Mentor Civic Arena, 8600 Munson Rd., Mentor
June 28, 1 – 7 p.m., Independence Community Center, 6363 Selig Drive, Independence June 29, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.: Cuyahoga Valley Church, 5055 E. Wallings Rd., Broadview Heights
June 30, Noon – 7 p.m., Avon Isle Park, 37080 Detroit Road, Avon

Akron/Canton
June 28, Noon – 6 p.m., St Paul Lutheran Church, 127 Cherry Road NE, Massillon
June 30, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., United Methodist Church, 1435 E. Main St., Kent
July 1, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium, 2345 4th St., Cuyahoga Falls

Youngstown
June 24, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Stambaugh Auditorium, 1000 Fifth Ave., Youngstown
June 28, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Boardman Public Library, 7680 Glenwood Ave., Boardman
June 30, Noon – 6 p.m., Packard Music Hall, 1703 Mahoning Ave., Warren

Toledo
June 26, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., First Presbyterian Church, 200 East Broadway, Maumee
June 27, 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., Grace Lutheran Church, 4441 Monroe St., Toledo
June 28, 1:30 p.m. – 6 p.m., Fremont VFW, 204 Birchard Ave., Fremont
June 30, 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Zoar Lutheran Church, 314 East Indiana, Perrysburg

Student spreads the word about sickle cell disease

World Sickle Cell Awareness Day observed each June 19th

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

The American Red Cross believes Black lives matter. That’s why it’s urgent that more Black and African Americans roll up their sleeves and donate lifesaving blood for those living with sickle cell disease.

Cleveland teenager Makenzie Nance is one of an estimated 100,000 people in the U.S. who have sickle cell disease (SCD). Some 90% of those are of African descent and roughly 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year.

Sickle cell disease is a hereditary condition that can be life threatening. It leads to anemia (a shortage of red blood cells), causing fatigue and possible damage to blood vessels and vital organs. It often causes severe pain that can last for hours or days; it can even lead to disabling strokes.

Makenzie was a preschooler when she first had a critically low hemoglobin level – which meant her red blood cells couldn’t carry oxygen from her lungs throughout her body. She needed a blood transfusion immediately.

And to be the most effective, that blood needed to come from someone of her own ethnicity, an African American.

“They told me there was a shortage of African American blood,” her mother, Demeatrice Nance, recalls. “It had to be flown in from somewhere else. That’s when I realized the importance of getting African Americans to donate blood.”

Thanks to Makenzie getting regular checkups and immediate attention when she gets so much as a common cold, the 17-year-old has only had two transfusions. “But we know friends who have to have transfusions every couple of months,” Demeatrice said.

Makenzie’s condition could change at any time, requiring more transfusions. A single patient with SCD can need up to 50-100 pints of blood each year.

The Red Cross, which collects about 40% of the nation’s blood supply, wants to be sure there’s plenty of blood to meet these very specific needs. In an all-out effort to fill the gap, the Red Cross is trying to triple the number of Black and African American blood donors by the end of December 2024.

SCD also affects people with ancestors from India, Central and South America, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Mediterranean nations such as Italy, Greece, France and Turkey.

Both Makenzie and her mom are active in recruiting blood donors. “African Americans just haven’t been educated about giving blood,” Demeatrice said. “ ‘Oh, I don’t like needles,’ or ‘Oh, they’ll take all my blood.’ We have to dispel all of that misinformation.”

Makenzie goes to high schools around Cleveland to educate her peers. And because she’s spent so much time in hospitals and doctors’ offices herself, she wants to go into nursing; she’s already a Certified Nursing Assistant with a goal of becoming a Registered Nurse.

Demeatrice regularly sponsors Red Cross blood drives which include information about SCD as well as team that can do finger pricks to screen for the trait that can lead to having a child with the disease.

“I’m all in,” for spreading the word about SCD, with the goal of early detection and plenty of blood for effective treatment, she said.

To learn more about SCD, go to RedCrossBlood.org/SickleCell.

Local blood donors testify on World Blood Donor Day

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

Today is World Blood Donor Day, a day where organizations around the world highlight the importance of safe blood, platelet and plasma donations provided by individuals around the world, and right here in our own backyard.

Donors are especially important at times like these, during the severe blood shortage currently being experienced, due to increased hospital demand, as the number of trauma cases, organ transplants and elective surgeries have risen, depleting the nation’s blood supply.

Every two seconds someone in the U.S. need blood and/or platelets. It is essential for people having surgery or cancer treatment, individuals who experienced a traumatic injury and those with certain chronic illnesses. The American Red Cross provides about 40% of our nation’s blood and blood component supply, collected from generous volunteer donors at blood drive events throughout the year.

This World Blood Donor Day, we’d like to highlight some of our recent Northern Ohio blood donors and their words of encouragement to others about donating blood.

“Once you get started, you won’t want to stop. It is very rewarding.  Even when I did not have a high enough Iron level, I was not deterred. I kept trying. I kept going,” says Roberta Koester from Chardon.

Linda Goeke from Hudson said, “I love getting the messages that my blood has been sent to such and such a place to help someone in need.”

And finally Brenda Turek from Boardman talk about how little time it takes to donate: “It is easy. For me it is one hour from the time I leave home to the time I get back home.“

It’s with donation from donors like you, that life-saving blood can be provided to people when they need it the most. Only 3% of age-eligible people donate blood yearly, and with each new donor, we are able to better meet the supply needed.

To learn more about the donation process and to find a blood donation drive near you, visit redcross.org/blood.