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. 

 

 

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

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

“You’re not donating blood. You’re donating life.”

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

Have you ever set a goal and reached it? How about doubling the goal and reaching that?

Now, how about knowing that in reaching those goals you’ve saved or improved the quality of life for hundreds of men, women and especially children?

Al Whitney knows that feeling: He’s donated platelets – the part of blood that creates clotting – in all 50 states. Twice!  Oh, and in Canada and Australia for good measure.

“When people ask me why I do this, I just tell them, ‘You go and walk through a cancer ward and then come back and ask me why I do it’,” he said. “You’re not donating blood. You’re donating life.”

The spry 84-year-old began his life-saving career in 1965, when he saw a big Red Cross sign in downtown Cleveland that said, “Donate blood.” So he did. When he walked out, he was inspired: “Al, you can do more.”

So he started organizing regular blood drives in Avon Lake, his home town, while continuing to donate blood himself, every 56 days.

Sometime in the late 1970s or early ‘80s, he switched to donating platelets, which are always in short supply because that blood component only has a shelf life of five days. Every 15 seconds, someone with cancer, chronic disease or traumatic injuries needs platelets.

In the process of platelet donation, the blood clotting portion of whole blood is “spun” out and the rest of the blood is returned to the donor; typically, the body replaces its platelets in 24-36 hours. The FDA allows platelet donors to give 24 times a year.

In the fall of 2007, Al challenged himself to donate platelets in every state. It took him five years to reach that goal. “Al, you can do more,” whispered in his ear again.  So he set out to double the feat. He hit that target in March this year, when he made a donation in Albuquerque, N.M.

“Sometimes people will tell me, ‘I don’t like needles’,” Al said. “I tell them, ‘I know how you feel. But think of that little boy in the cancer ward. Do you think he likes needles?’ ”

As of his most recent donation, on April 21, Al has given 983 units. “God willing, I’ll make it to 1,000,” he said. He looks forward to hitting that milestone this fall, at the Red Cross donation center in Cleveland.

To learn more about donating platelets through the American Red Cross, visit  https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/how-to-donate/types-of-blood-donations/platelet-donation.html

Editor’s Note: The Red Cross currently has an emergency need for platelets and type O blood, as hospital demand for these products continues to outpace donations. Over the last year, the Red Cross has collected over 1 million units of platelets, and nearly half of those have been provided to patients undergoing cancer treatment. More platelet donors are needed to continue to meet these needs. 

A summer full of life: Perfect time to give and receive

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

Been cooped up since COVID-19 started? Now that mask mandates have been relaxed for your time in the outdoors, it’s the perfect time to get out and rediscover nature.

The woods are getting green again, with lots of new leaves on the trees. Creeks and rivers have lost their icy cover. Flowers are bursting out all over, and gentle breezes make it a joy to be outdoors.

In addition, fresh air is associated with all types of health improvements: from mood enhancement to clarity of focus to brain, lung, digestive and blood benefits.

Speaking of blood, did you realize that blood donations go down around the summer holidays, but accidents and hospitalizations don’t. For instance, a serious automobile accident victim can require as many as 100 units of blood. And, it’s the blood products already on the shelves that help save lives in emergencies.

Type O negative is the universal blood type and is what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations. Type O positive blood is the most used blood type because it can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type.

Not sure what blood type you are? Come donate and you’ll find out. Your blood will also be tested for COVID-19 antibodies. Test results will be available to donors via the American Red Cross Blood Donor App or at RedCrossBlood.org within one to two weeks.

Now would be a DOUBLY beneficial time to donate.

In thanks for making it a summer full of life, those who come to give May 1-15 will receive a $5 Amazon.com gift card by email. Those who make it in to donate during the month of May will also automatically be entered for a chance to win a travel trailer camper that sleeps five, powered by Suburban Propane.*

Additional details are available at http://RedCrossBlood.org/SummerFullOfLife.

*Restrictions apply. Winner must provide tow vehicle with the appropriate tow capacity for use with the prize vehicle at all times, i.e., such as a full-sized truck or SUV, in order to take delivery of the prize (2021 Coachmen Clipper Cadet 21CBH, estimated at 5,000 pounds).

Edited by: Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Help refuel the blood supply in April and be entered to win a trip to the 2022 Indianapolis 500®

Every single day in Northern Ohio, the American Red Cross needs to collect approximately 500 pints of blood to meet the needs of patients in more than 70 local hospitals. And, in the midst of a continuing pandemic, the need for blood donors continues to be essential. Right now, the Red Cross needs donors of all types, especially those with type O blood, to race to give blood or platelets and help refuel the blood supply.

During the month of April, the Red Cross is teaming up with INDYCAR® to urge people to help keep the blood supply on track by donating blood or platelets. Those who come to give April 1-15, 2021, will automatically be entered to win a VIP trip for four to the 2022 Indianapolis 500®. The Red Cross will also automatically enter all who come to give in April for a chance to win one of five $1,000 e-gift cards to a merchant of choice. Additional details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/Indy500.

The need for blood doesn’t take a pit stop

Every day – even during a pandemic – patients like Kristen Palocko rely on lifesaving blood products. In 2017, Palocko, a critical care nurse from Broadview Heights, was feeling extremely fatigued. After a trip to the ER, she found out she had a rare bleeding disorder called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP).

“This started me on a roller coaster of a 12-day hospital stay, a central dialysis line in my neck, and multiple units of red blood cells and plasma.” Kristin received 330 units of plasma, taking four hours each for 10 of those 12 days.

“I feel blessed for everyone’s thoughts and prayers through it all—especially the blood donors. They have helped me, and numerous others, in our time of greatest need with their generous donations,” said Palocko. “Without those willing to give of their time (and blood) there would not be treatment for TTP.”

In Northern Ohio, donors can visit one of four donation centers in Toledo, Cleveland, Akron or Parma. To schedule a donation appointment, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

When seconds count in the race to save lives, it’s the blood already on the shelves that helps most. Join us and give to help ensure hospitals are ready to respond to the needs of patients this month.

Solon Community Center leads the way in hosting blood drives

Other hosts needed to serve vital role during challenging times

By Olivia Wyles, American Red Cross volunteer

One of the first things that comes to mind when someone mentions the American Red Cross is blood drives — and rightly so, as the Red Cross provides about 40% of the entire nation’s blood and blood components. However, only about 3% of age-eligible individuals donate blood on an annual basis. Unfortunately, that number has dropped even further in the last year due in part to a lack of blood drive sponsors.

You may recall having the opportunity to donate blood when you were in school. But the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many schools and businesses no longer being able to host blood drives as more and more locations close and/or restrict access to their facilities. Furthermore, finding spaces that are large enough to host Red Cross blood drives while accommodating social distancing has been a challenge. This is a major barrier for the Red Cross, as our blood drive hosts play an absolutely critical role in maintaining a sufficient blood supply by providing opportunities for people to give to others in their local community. More than 80% of the total blood donations are made at blood drives hosted by our volunteers. Our blood drive hosts play an absolutely vital role in helping the Red Cross ensure that blood is available for patients in over 2,500 hospitals throughout the nation.

Solon Community Center has stood out as a leader for not only continuing to host blood drives over the past year, but for even adding additional blood drives to its schedule. Solon Community Center has been a partner of the Red Cross since 2004. Even amidst the pandemic, it was able to collect 1,095 pints of blood in 2020, which has the ability to help save up to 3,285 lives. The persistent dedication of Solon Community Center staff to host blood drives, combined with the constant support of its local blood donors, have served as an exemplary model for other current and potential blood drive hosts who can also advance the Red Cross mission to provide lifesaving blood for those who need it.

Health and safety is a priority for the Red Cross. All of our blood drive hosts follow the highest standards of safety and infection control while we do our jobs. Some of these protocols include temperature checks for both staff and donors prior to entering a blood drive, mandatory face masks, easily-accessible hand sanitizer at every step of the donation process, and social distancing wherever possible. Lastly, we also urge donors to schedule appointments prior to arrival to ensure that we can manage the flow of donors at blood drives.

So what are you waiting for? Your organization or company could be our next blood drive host and help the Red Cross bring lifesaving resources to those who greatly need them. For those interested in hosting a blood drive, please visit https://www.redcrossblood.org/hosting-a-blood-drive/learn-about-hosting/why-host-a-blood-drive.html.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Northern Ohio has a new, lifesaving bloodmobile

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

It may not transform into a spaceship or submarine, but the Northern Ohio region of the American Red Cross has a state-of-the-art, high-tech new bloodmobile to help save lives.

Thanks to the generosity of several sponsors, listed below, the new bloodmobile will collect approximately 28,000 units of blood over the next 10 years. As each unit helps up to three people, that equates to as many as 84,000 patients. These include those who have been in accidents, women giving birth and children with blood disorders.

To help illustrate the importance of bloodmobiles, more than 80% of all blood donations are made at mobile or organization-hosted blood drives. In addition, bloodmobiles are vital in reaching donors near homes, workplaces, schools and community-based locations.

Nationwide, the Red Cross holds more than 500 blood drives each day. Each year, more than 4.5 million units of blood are collected from nearly 2.6 million generous donors. Providing about 40% of the nation’s blood supply, the Red Cross is the single largest supplier of blood and blood products in the U.S.

Vehicles have long been a vital part of the Red Cross’ mission, from the wagon Clara Barton used as an ambulance in 1898, to the current fleet of bloodmobiles, emergency response and other vehicles used to reach those in need.

The new state-of-the-art bloodmobile, based in Cleveland, is 40 feet long and 8.5 feet wide. Designed to provide a safe, convenient and comfortable donor experience, the bloodmobile contains three health history booths where donor eligibility screenings are conducted and five beds where blood is drawn. It features advanced technology, iPads on each donor bed, a canteen and sofa area, climate control and a spacious interior.

The new bloodmobile provides the Red Cross with better access to new and harder-to-reach communities where the most needed blood types can be collected. It also better enables blood donations at corporations, community partners and organizations with limited space.

The new bloodmobile serving Northern Ohio is sponsored by:

  • The Ahuja Foundation
  • The Albert M. Higley Co.
  • Allied Witan Co.
  • Applied Industrial Technologies
  • ArcelorMittal USA
  • BakerHostetler LLP
  • Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.
  • Diebold Foundation
  • DiGeronimo Companies
  • Ernst & Young
  • FirstEnergy Foundation
  • George H. Deuble Foundation
  • The G. R. Lincoln Family Foundation
  • Highland Consulting Associates, Inc.
  • Hylant Group
  • Lincoln Electric Company
  • The Lubrizol Corporation
  • McDonald Hopkins
  • MCPc
  • The MetroHealth Foundation
  • Oatey Company
  • Oswald Companies
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
  • Rockwell Automation
  • Steris Corporation
  • The Timken Company
  • The Timken Foundation of Canton
  • United Way of Greater Cleveland
  • Willis Towers Watson
  • WKYC

To help meet the critical need for blood, sign up for a blood drive at a location near you at redcrossblood.org/give or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Photo credit: Brian Selecky, American Red Cross


Giving blood gives time to those fighting cancer

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

February 4, 2021- If you or someone you love have gone through a health scare of any kind, you know firsthand how your perspective changes in the blink of an eye. When my husband got his cancer diagnosis, we were shocked. We thought there was a simple explanation for his symptoms. We thought the biopsy was a routine test they were doing along with some others. We were in a state of disbelief when the doctor said that not only was it cancer, but it was advanced. He died a year later.

Cancer has a way of making time an all-consuming obsession. The realization that every minute is important, every day should be cherished, and that time is a precious commodity is never far from my thoughts. 

When you think about fighting cancer, the first thing you may think of is chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. What so many don’t realize is that many cancer patients undergoing chemo will likely have a need for blood. In fact, five units of blood are needed every minute to help someone going through cancer treatment. Patients fighting cancer use nearly one quarter of the nation’s blood supply – more than patients fighting any other disease. And, yet, only 3% of people in the U.S. regularly donate blood.

You may not have put the two together before but giving blood can help patients fight cancer. There simply aren’t enough people regularly donating blood to meet the ongoing need. That’s the message the American Red Cross wants to spread.

We know that not everyone is eligible to donate blood, so a financial donation is also encouraged. By making a financial gift in any amount, you’re helping to give patients and their families time, resources and the hope they need to fight back.

My grief had me vacillating between a depressive despair that made me want to do nothing and a manic desire to do anything and everything to help others who were suffering. But I didn’t know where to start. Donating blood is a start. It’s a meaningful way to honor someone you love who is battling or has battled cancer. To learn more and to schedule a blood donation appointment, visit RedCrossBlood.org.

To make a financial gift, visit redcross.org/donate.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteers

Northeast Ohio donors and nurse see firsthand how simple act of donating blood saves lives, urge others to give to make a difference

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

January 28, 2021- Jennifer Bowen of Tallmadge, Ohio, rolled up her sleeve at an American Red Cross blood drive recently and donated for the first time. “I wish it didn’t take a tragic event to make me realize how simple it is to help save a life!” she said. 

“My niece Alivia is only 12 years old and needs weekly blood transfusions to survive, due to her diagnosis of Severe Aplastic Anemia. Alivia, while living with this condition, is so positive, so strong and just inspires me to make a difference in the world!” explained Jennifer.  

January is National Blood Donor Month, which spotlights the fact that due to seasonal illnesses, the number of people signing up for blood drives drops off. But the need for lifesaving or life-sustaining blood transfusions never dries up. 

Jesika Florin of Hudson, Ohio, sees that need up close and personal: “I’ve been a nurse for over a decade. I administer all blood products to patients on a regular basis. 

“I’ve seen the baby fighting for life with a bad heart. I’ve seen the dad who endured traumatic injuries from a car accident. I’ve seen the pregnant mother losing her child. I’ve seen the grandmother who couldn’t afford health care and put everyone’s needs above her own only to find her body giving out. I’ve seen the teenage son who sustained gunshot wounds.”

“Blood products saved these people’s lives. The countless bags of blood products I’ve hung have all had stories of lives saved and lives lost. I see the difference a 15 to 30 minute donation can make. I see the life come back in a person after a transfusion. It may be a needle stick to my arm, but it’s someone’s family I’m helping to have more time with those they love.” 

Jesika donates, and she has advice for anyone considering giving blood for the first time: “Hop up on that table, put your latest show on your phone, breathe (because 1, 2, 3…stick). Now, close your eyes, clear your head and thoughts, just relax, and take a few moments for you. Once you’re all done, grab your snack, and walk out knowing you just saved someone’s life, or three.” 

Three? What does she mean by “three?”  

Every unit of whole blood can be administered as is, such as to accident victims or sickle cell patients. Or a unit of blood may be separated into its main components:  

  • red blood cells (frequently given to trauma and surgery patients) 
  • platelets (used to treat blood disorders like anemia and certain cancers) 
  • plasma (used to treat a variety of acute conditions, such as severe burns). 

David Masirovits of Ashtabula, Ohio, is committed to Power Red donations. Power Red is similar to a whole blood donation, except a special machine is used to allow the donor to safely give two units of red blood cells during one donation while receiving their plasma and platelets back at the same time. 

“My sister Susan and I had a Power Red competition for several years until she passed away in 2016,” said David. “So now I give for her and am proud to do so. My sister started it and now I get to finish it. When she passed, she had 28 Power Red donations. 

“For an hour of your time, you have the opportunity to change someone’s life forever. Someday this life could be a friend and or a family member. So do it, please!” urged David. 

To sign up for a blood drive near you, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). 

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer