Blood and platelet donations still critically needed amid first-ever Red Cross blood crisis

While there has been a significant and encouraging response to the dire need for blood across the nation, the American Red Cross needs more people to give in the weeks ahead to recover from its worst blood shortage in more than a decade. Those interested in helping are urged to schedule the earliest-available blood or platelet donation appointment in their area to help ensure accident victims rushed to the emergency room, those being treated for cancer and others who count on blood product transfusions can receive lifesaving care without delay.

Since the Red Cross issued its first-ever blood crisis alert, severe winter weather has further complicated efforts to rebuild the blood supply. Hundreds of blood drives have been canceled across the country, including here in Northern Ohio, due to winter storms in January, forcing about 6,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected.

As February approaches, and the effects from the spread of the omicron variant and winter weather persist, people are urged to make an appointment now to give blood or platelets in the weeks ahead by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

As a thank-you for coming out to help save lives during this blood crisis, Krispy Kreme is offering those who come to give blood or platelets a free Original Glazed® dozen through the end of January. To receive the free Original Glazed dozen, visit a participating Krispy Kreme shop by Jan. 31 and present a donation sticker or a digital blood donor card through the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

Those who come to give blood or platelets Feb. 1-28, 2022, will receive a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card via email, thanks to Amazon.*

Red Cross: National blood crisis may put patients at risk

Dire situation facing blood supply, those in need of blood transfusions

The American Red Cross is facing a national blood crisis – its worst blood shortage in more than a decade. Dangerously low blood supply levels are posing a concerning risk to patient care and forcing doctors to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available.

Blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments, and donors of all blood types – especially type O − are urged to make an appointment now to give in the weeks ahead.

In recent weeks, the Red Cross had less than a one-day supply of critical blood types and has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals. At times, as much as one-quarter of hospital blood needs are not being met.

Pandemic challenges
The Red Cross continues to confront relentless challenges due to COVID-19, including a out a 10% overall decline in the number of people donating blood as well as ongoing blood drive cancellations and staffing limitations. Additionally, the pandemic has contributed to a 62% drop in blood drives at schools and colleges.

“Winter weather across the country and the recent surge of COVID-19 cases are compounding the already-dire situation facing the blood supply,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio. “Please, if you are eligible, make an appointment to give blood or platelets in the days and weeks ahead to ensure no patient is forced to wait for critical care.”

Make an appointment to give blood or platelets as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800- 733 2767).

Who donations help
Dylan Fink of Stow, Ohio was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in September 2019 at just 14 years old. Because of his chemotherapy treatment, Dylan’s blood counts were drastically low. Over the course of his 100 days in the hospital Dylan needed nine blood transfusions and 11 platelet transfusions. In May 2020, Dylan was able to “ring the bell” at Akron Children’s Hospital, marking his remission.

“In the cancer world, I don’t think people understand how much blood product is needed andjust how important it is,” said Krista Fink, Dylan’s mom.  Read more about Dylan’s story here.

Blood drive safety 
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including face masks for donors and staff, regardless of vaccination status – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive. 

Volunteers needed
In addition to blood donors, the Red Cross also needs the help of volunteers to support critical blood collections across the country. Blood drive volunteers play an important role by greeting, registering, answering questions and providing information to blood donors throughout the donation process. Blood transportation specialists – another volunteer opportunity − provide a critical link between blood donors and blood recipients by delivering blood to hospitals in communities across the country. To volunteer to support Red Cross blood collections, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Donate blood or platelets now to help patients avoid delays in care

As we welcome 2022, the American Red Cross blood supply has now dipped to the lowest level in more than a decade and could force hospitals to hold off on essential blood and platelet transfusions for patients in Northern Ohio and across the country.  

The troubling decline of the Red Cross blood supply, which supports about 40% of the nation’s blood needs, comes at a time of year when donations typically fall. Holiday get togethers, school breaks and winter weather often lead to lower donor turnout, potentially further compounding the situation. The critical role of blood and platelet donors has been celebrated each January for nearly 50 years during National Blood Donor Month. If you’ve never given blood before or if it’s been a while now is the perfect time to start helping save lives!

The need for healthy blood donors is also important as Northern Ohio, like many communities across the country saw a significant rise in COVID-19 cases during the month of December. If you are feeling healthy and well, please consider sharing your good health by giving blood. If you received the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine or booster there is no deferral time to give blood. Additionally, there is also no deferral after a flu vaccine, as long as you are symptom-free and feeling well the day of donation.

Once again, the Red Cross is partnering with the NFL to thank donors during the month of January. Come to give blood or platelets Jan. 1-31 and you’ll automatically get a chance to score an exciting Super Bowl LVI getaway in LA for you and a guest! Plus, the Red Cross will give you a shot at a home theater package and $500 e-gift card in January. Terms apply; visit RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl for more information. 

Potential donors are urged to schedule an appointment now by using the Red Cross
Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733- 2767). If there is not an immediate opportunity to donate, please make an appointment in the days and weeks ahead to ensure the Red Cross can replenish and then maintain a sufficient blood supply.

Community members come together to give back this holiday season

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross Volunteer

The American Red Cross of Northern Ohio held holiday blood drives across the region, providing an opportunity for donors to give the gift of life for people in need during this holiday season.

Hailee Horstman, Blood Donor

The drives were held between December 14th and December 23rd at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, the Hilton Garden Inn in Twinsburg, the Sheraton Suites Akron/Cuyahoga Falls, the Hilton Garden Inn in Perrysburg and Stambaugh Auditorium and Packard Music Hall in Youngstown.

Daniel Salmons, Blood Donor

The Red Cross put the call out to the public, encouraging them to donate at our holiday drives, and our community members answered. Across all of the holiday blood drives, 1,240 pints of blood were donated to provide critical help for patients across the region.

Each donation can help up to three patients awaiting a blood product – red blood cells, platelets, or plasma. That means more than 3,700 people will possibly benefit by the donations made at this year’s holiday blood drives.

Lee Holmes-Blood Donor

Blood donations help patients in our community of all ages, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those battling cancer, among others. In fact, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.

The need this year is high, as pandemic challenges and concerns, along with the typical winter lulls, have resulted in historically low levels of blood supply. If you haven’t had a chance to donate—don’t delay. We are calling all eligible donors this January as part of National Blood Donor Month to roll up their sleeves and donate. To find an upcoming blood donation drive near you, click here.

Volunteers respond to multiple local disasters; mobilize to assist in national relief efforts after horrific weekend tornadoes

It was another busy weekend for American Red Cross Northern Ohio disaster volunteers. Disaster action team members assisted families in nine counties who were affected by home fires, storms and a building collapse. The Red Cross helped 56 individuals, providing $11,433 in immediate assistance. Tragically, two young children died in one home fire. The Red Cross continues to provide home fire safety information to residents and install smoke alarms for those who need them. To request a smoke alarm, visit this site

December 12, 2021. Bowling Green, Kentucky. Sharon Wilson speaks to Red Cross volunteer Amy Miller and explains what happened to her last Saturday morning. Photo by Marko Kokic/American Red Cross

In addition to responding to local disasters, the Red Cross is deeply saddened by the loss of life and incredible devastation brought by the horrific tornadoes that touched down this weekend across multiple states in the center of the country. Over the weekend, Red Cross personnel and volunteers were busy mobilizing to help assist on large relief efforts in Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri to provide safe shelter, comfort and support in the face of one of the most devastating tornado outbreaks in years. Northern Ohio volunteers will be leaving in the coming days along with two emergency response vehicles from the Region, each with a two-person crew.

If you are a current volunteer with the Red Cross, please consider deploying to assist in the relief efforts around the Midwest and southern tornadoes. With such widespread damage, we know families will need support for weeks to come and the Red Cross will be there for as long as we are needed. To be considered for deployment, please update your availability in Volunteer Connection and someone will contact you. The Red Cross also needs additional volunteers who are willing to be trained and to deploy to future disasters.  A two-week commitment is typically required. Visit our website or call 216-431-3328 to apply.

In addition to disaster relief, the Red Cross has also provided approximately 200 additional blood products to hospitals in response to these devastating tornadoes. We remain in contact with our hospital partners throughout the affected areas and stand ready to provide additional blood products as needed. We anticipate Red Cross blood drives in affected communities may be canceled or experience lower donor turnout in the coming days, straining supply levels. We depend on the community to donate blood so we are able to provide it to those in need each day. If you are eligible to give, please schedule an appointment in the coming weeks. If you have questions about your eligibility to give, learn more here or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Upcoming Northeast Ohio blood drives and donation opportunities

Ryan Lang, Red Cross Volunteer

The gift of blood has never been more in-demand perhaps than it is this holiday season.
Between the typical winter lulls, pandemic challenges and concerns, and more, the American Red Cross is facing historically low levels of blood supply.

With that, the Red Cross is urging the public to answer the call to donate, and soon. In a recent press release, the Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross noted that “if more donors don’t come forward to give blood, some patients requiring a transfusion may potentially face delays in care.” Each pint of blood donated has the potential to help up to three people.”

In the coming weeks, the Red Cross will host several special holiday blood drives throughout the Northern Ohio Region. These drives offer special gifts for donors, refreshments and the chance to enter drawings for various prizes. Below is information for each blood drive, as well as a link to make an appointment. We encourage everyone to make an appointment, as these special events tend to be busier than the average blood drive.

Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021
8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse
1 Center Court
Cleveland, OH 44115
Appointments: Click here and enter code: ROCKET


Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021
7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Hilton Garden Inn Twinsburg
8971 Wilcox Drive
Twinsburg, OH 44087
Appointments: Click here and enter code: HILTONTWINSBURG

Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021
7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sheraton Suites Akron/Cuyahoga Falls
1989 Front Street
Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44221
Appointments: Click here and enter code: SUMMA

Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021
8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Hilton Garden Inn
6165 Levis Commons
Perrysburg, OH 43551
Appointments: Click here and enter code: WNWO

Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Stambaugh Auditorium
1000 Fifth Ave
Youngstown, OH 44504
Packard Music Hall
1703 Mahoning Ave.
Warren, OH 44483
Appointments for both sites: Click here and enter code HOLIDAYHERO


And, if you’re not able to join us at a holiday blood drive, please visit redcrossblood.org and make an appointment for a blood drive that fits your schedule.

As an extra incentive, donors who give blood between the 17th of this month and January 2nd will get an exclusive Red Cross long-sleeved T-shirt, while supplies last.

To expedite the donation process, you’re encouraged to schedule an appointment through the Red Cross Blood Donor app that you can download to your smartphone, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (733-2767). You can also complete a RapidPass that allows you to expedite the pre-donation process through an online questionnaire the day you are donating.

A reminder: All donors must bring a blood donor card or a valid driver’s license or two other forms of identification that will be verified at check-in. To see more requirements and COVID-19 protocols, click here.

A chance to give back: One family’s first blood drive 

By Ryan Lang, American Red Cross Volunteer

“In the cancer world, I don’t think people understand how much blood product is needed and just how important it is.” 

Ed Fink, Krista Fink, Dylan Fink, Grady Fink

Those are the words of Krista Fink, mother of now 15-year-old Dylan Fink, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma back in September 2019 at just 14 years old. That moment will forever be cemented in time as one of the most profound moments of Krista’s and her husband Ed’s lives. 

Will our son be OK? Will he play sports again? What now? All of those questions and so many more raced through their minds as they first had to consider how to tell Dylan, whose biggest concern to that point was trying out for the high school basketball team. 

They did tell Dylan and then the Fink family began their treatment plan, attacking the cancer as aggressively as they could, all while holding onto the hope that Dylan would be OK.

Chemotherapy was the first order of business, and it started almost immediately after Dylan’s official diagnosis. This continued over the course of nearly seven months, and as it does, chemo took its toll on Dylan and his young body, leaving him weak and his blood counts drastically low.

“It was after his fourth round of chemo that he needed his first blood transfusion,” Ed said. And over the course of his more than 100 days in the hospital between September 2019 and March 2020, Dylan would undergo nine blood transfusions and 11 platelet transfusions in addition to his cancer treatments.

Then came May 4, 2020, eight months to the day from when he was diagnosed with cancer. Dylan was able to “ring the bell” at Akron Children’s hospital, marking his remission.

“For Dylan, that was the goal… We talked about ‘the bell’ so much, and when it did happen it was truly a miracle,” Krista said.

From the moment Dylan’s treatments began, Ed and Krista Fink had decided that when they could, they would find a way to give back to all of the people who helped them, and helped Dylan, along the way. Between moral and emotional support and, of course, blood donations family and friends had made in Dylan’s honor, the Finks had a lot to be grateful for, and in turn, according to Ed, a lot to give back. 

That’s where the Fearless Fighters Foundation started. It’s the nonprofit started by Ed and Krista Fink, in honor of Dylan, with the mission of “crushing all pediatric cancers by funding research for new and improved treatments as well as helping families who are currently going through treatment,” according to the group’s Facebook page. As the Finks were launching the foundation, trying to decide what type of event would really get their charitable efforts off the ground, the answer came to them quickly: a blood drive! What better way to support pediatric cancer patients than helping to provide the lifesaving blood that Dylan was so dependent on during his treatment. 

On Wednesday, December 15, 2021, the Finks and the Fearless Fighters Foundation are hosting their very first blood drive at the SYB hall in Stow, located at 4157 Hudson Drive. For details, see the Facebook event page. There are several appointments still available for donors. Ed and Krista are urging all who can to sign up as soon as they can to secure their spot. 

December’s blood drive, the Finks said, is the first of many opportunities for their family to give back. For cancer patients needing blood products over the course of their treatments, there was one message Krista wanted to convey: “They would not be able to survive without it.” 

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer

30-gallon blood donor says YOU can save a life

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

Marie Lecurgo doesn’t remember the first time she donated blood, which is understandable, because she started more than 40 years ago.

But she knows why she’s still donating blood: “The feeling that you’re helping so many people, it’s overwhelming.”

Marie chokes up as she thinks of how many people have benefitted from the 30 gallons she has given. That’s 240 pints, each of which can be separated into three critical components. So that’s as many as 720 recipients: accident victims, surgery patients, people undergoing treatment for everything from cancer to sickle cell disease.

Marie Lecurgo (center), with Red Cross staff, shows off her badge of honor after a recent donation at UAW Local 12 in Toledo

The 71-year-old Toledo resident, a not-yet-retired licensed practical nurse, is out front with her support for the American Red Cross. “I feel like a walking billboard for the Red Cross. I wear all their free T-shirts,” she says with a chuckle.

But she turns serious when she thinks about people who shy away from rolling up their sleeves, citing a fear of needles. Get over it!” she says firmly. There may be a time when you or someone you love needs blood.” She’d love to inspire a hundred more people to follow her selfless example.

“There may be a time when you or someone you love needs blood.”

Marie Lecurgo

In fact, Red Cross is seeing the worst post-summer shortage of blood and platelets in at least six years.

The blood inventory typically rebounds after summer shortages. But this fall, a surge in COVID-19 cases because of the Delta variant has contributed to the lowest donor turnout of the year. To meet hospital and patient needs, the Red Cross needs to collect 10,000 additional blood products each week this month.

With less than a day’s supply of certain blood types on hand in recent weeks, the Red Cross urges donors of all blood types — especially type O — to make an appointment to give blood or platelets.

Marie made an appointment to donate whole blood again last week and now she’s thinking about giving platelets too. Donors can give platelets every seven days because the process extracts just the platelets, returning the rest of the blood back to the donor, so there’s less recovery time.

To sign up for a blood drive or donation center near you, use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Every Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows strict standards of safety and infection control, and  additional precautions  — including face masks for all donors and staff, regardless of vaccination status — are in place to protect everyone’s health. Donors are encouraged to schedule an appointment before arriving at a drive. 

Donors can save up to 15 minutes at their blood drive by using a RapidPass®. With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

To donate blood, bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification to check in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Red Cross faces emergency need as blood supplies drop to lowest post-summer levels since 2015  

This is serious: The national American Red Cross blood inventory is the lowest it has been at this time of year since 2015. Donors of all blood types – especially type O – and platelet donors are urged to make an appointment to give now and in the weeks ahead to overcome an emergency shortage. 

Blood donor turnout has reached the lowest levels of the year as many delayed giving amid a return to the workplace and in-person learning, as well as a recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the country due to the delta variant. As cases spiked in August, blood donor participation decreased about 10%, but blood product distributions to hospitals have remained strong, significantly outpacing blood donations in recent weeks. 

Patients, including those facing cancer, rely on the kindness of blood and platelet donors to help ensure they have the blood products they need for treatment. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, the Red Cross encourages eligible donors roll up a sleeve to provide hope and healing to cancer patients.

According to the National Cancer Institute, roughly 1.9 million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. this year, and more than 281,000 of those individuals will have breast cancer. Patients with breast cancer and other cancers may need blood products on a regular basis during chemotherapy, surgery or treatment for complications. Platelet transfusions are often needed by patients to help prevent life-threatening bleeding. More than half of all platelets collected by the Red Cross are used by patients with cancer.

Here are 3 easy ways YOU can help restock the shelves:

  1. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).  
  2. Let your friends and family know there is an emergency blood shortage.
  3. Invite someone to donate with you.

One act of kindness deserves another

All those who come to donate in October will receive a link by email to claim a free Zaxby’s Signature Sandwich reward or get a $5 e-gift card to a merchant of their choice. Terms and conditions apply; see rcblood.org/zax for details.

Blood drive safety 

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including face masks for donors and staff, regardless of vaccination status – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive. 

Don’t wait – make your appointment to donate.

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.