By Doug Bardwell, Red Cross volunteer
If this were a typical January, we’d still be talking about how difficult it is to maintain New Year’s resolutions, how The Ohio State Buckeyes coulda/shoulda won the NCAA College Football National Championship, and who’s going to make it to the Super Bowl. (Spoiler alert – not the Browns.)
January is also National Blood Donor Month, celebrating all those who volunteer to donate blood and platelets to help save lives. But due to recent weather events, those precious donors are even more critical than ever.
Approximately 10 Red Cross blood drives across Northern Ohio were canceled due to extreme weather during the week of Christmas in December. These cancellations resulted in a shortfall of more than 260 blood donations. Many more blood drives were canceled elsewhere across the country due to the weather, resulting in even more potential donations going uncollected.
This isn’t a typical January
Instead, our thoughts and prayers tonight were centered on those on the west coast. Four years ago this week, I volunteered with the Red Cross for the horrific Paradise fire outside Chico, California. It was so dry there that the fires spread faster than firefighters could manage, and there wasn’t enough water to save the town.
Now it’s too much water, as California braces for repeated ‘atmospheric rivers’ and ‘bomb cyclones,’ where 10 percent of the US population is under severe storm advisories. Think about that – 10% of our entire country is in fear of weather catastrophes, from flooding to sinkholes to landslides.
For the Red Cross, many more blood drives could be canceled over the next week as those gigantic rain events cross the state and people try to find safe roads to escape the floodwaters.
But the need doesn’t stop
Winter is typically one of the most challenging times to collect blood products, even without the insane weather. So, now would be an ideal time to make a New Year’s resolution that can save up to three lives with each of your donations. A typical whole blood donation takes less than 30 minutes.
Donors of all types are needed, particularly type O donors, the most needed blood type by hospitals for emergency surgeries. Statistics show that one in seven patients entering a hospital needs a blood transfusion, yet only 3% of Americans actually donate.
Now’s the time
Whether you are a first-timer or a returning hero, everyone who donates before January 31 will be automatically entered to win a trip for two to Super Bowl LVII in Arizona, with pre-game activities, game day tickets, airfare, three-night hotel accommodations, and $500 gift card.
Join a winning team – make a blood or platelet donation. Book now using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).