“Time-out” ends for dedicated blood donor
By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer correspondent
January 27, 2020 – It feels so good to be lying on a portable couch again, a needle stuck in my arm, donating blood to the American Red Cross.
It’s been almost two years since I was allowed give this lifesaving gift and it feels really, really good.
Fun – if sobering – facts:
- There is NO man-made substitute for human blood for accident and burn victims, surgery and organ transplant patients, and those being treated for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.
- Every day, the Red Cross needs about 13,000 blood donations to meet the needs of patients at some 2,500 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country.
- Only about 3 percent of the American population donates blood.
- Every year, too many blood donors “disappear.” Some die (the World War II and Korean War generations were especially faithful blood donors); some start taking medications that shouldn’t be transmitted to a blood recipient; others drift away for personal reasons.
And some get “furloughed,” like I did.
I’d been showing up at Red Cross blood drives pretty regularly for more than 15 years. I’m O positive, so my blood’s widely useful and I have “good veins,” so the phlebotomists love me.
But in March 2018 I took a family vacation to the Dominican Republic. The next time I showed up to give blood, I learned I was sidelined for one year, because the DR is a malaria risk zone. Nuts!
Then, in December 2018, I went to India. Even though I took anti-malaria medications, the one-year disqualification clock started again.
Like so many of the Red Cross blood collection protocols, this is mandated by the federal Food and Drug Administration, to protect the millions of people who receive blood.
This month I was finally cleared to donate again. And as I said, it felt really good.
In fact, donating felt even better than it did two years ago. The disinfectant they swab on the arm isn’t iodine anymore, so the “sting” of the needle is gone. Woo hoo!
“If every blood donor who has been temporarily deferred would come back at the end of their ‘time out,’ it would really help the blood supply,” said Christy Peters, regional biomedical communications manager. “Those folks have already shown that they’re generous with the gift of life. We want to welcome them back as soon as we can.”
The need for blood is constant. Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. And this is National Blood Donor Month.
Next month, on February 11th, the largest blood drive of the year in Northeast Ohio takes place at Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights. Visit RedCrossBlood.org and use the promo code “Landerhaven” to make an appointment to donate there. You can also find the date, time and location of your nearest Red Cross blood drive there. Or can call 1-800-REDCROSS, or text BLOODAPP to 90999 or search “Red Cross Blood” on the App Store or Google Play to get the free Blood Donor App.