By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer
Everyday people across the Northern Ohio Region of the American Red Cross go to neighborhood drives to give blood. Several drives are scheduled this week. Throughout the year, many donors share their reasons for donating, and explain why others should consider donating blood. The stories they share are inspiring, touching and sometimes, their reasoning is simple.
We wanted to share just a few of the reasons why our blood donors made their first donation, and continue to give blood.
As we wrap up 2022 and look forward to 2023, consider adding “donate blood” on your New Year’s Resolution list. Or if you have donated in the past, put it on your to-do list for next year. Whatever your motivation, whatever your reason, we hope you share it with your family, friends, colleagues and if you feel so inclined, please share why you donate with us. Your stories and those of the individuals who receive blood continue to inspire the Red Cross every day.
National Parents’ Day (July 24, 2022) isn’t one of the most recognizable holidays in the United States, but it has been celebrated since 1994. That’s when President Clinton signed a congressional resolution to “recognize, uplift and support the role of parents in the rearing of children.” It’s been held annually on the fourth Sunday of July ever since.
Having been a proud parent for 55 years, would you like to know how many times we’ve been wished “Happy Parents’ Day?” Me too. I don’t think ever.
So, maybe Parents’ Day is a day to wish each other congratulations for everything you’ve done well over the years. I can get into that.
A bit of background
Growing up as an only child, I had only one perspective on my parents’ parenting skills. Conversely, my wife was one of 11, and grew up with an entirely different set of experiences. Fortunately, being the second oldest in her family, she learned all the skills I never did about taking charge of and caring for youngsters. That bode well for our children, and I credit her for keeping our family on the straight and narrow.
When we were expecting our first child, I took Parenting 101 at Cuyahoga Community College, and the only thing I recall but did try to live by was that “children learn by example.”
Jim Henson, of Muppets fame, probably said it better: “The attitude you have as a parent is what your kids will learn from more than what you tell them. They don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”
Did it work?
Having been a blood donor for years now, as our children got older, they were aware of my blood donations, and as they entered college, a majority donated as well. At a recent boy’s night out with my boys and grandsons, I polled the table and was delighted to find out that most of my grandchildren, 17 and over, are donors as well. As their younger siblings become of age to donate, I’d expect the trend to continue.
Even if they don’t come along, make them aware of why donating is important to you. I didn’t realize its impact on my family until years later. Happily, I didn’t have to tell them to do it – they just grew up doing what I did. That’s thanks enough for Parents’ Day.
By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer
We’ve all seen the American Red Cross logo at one time or another in our lives. Many of us have seen it promoting a local blood donation drive being held that day as we drove down the road. We all know that blood is needed for us to live–but we may not always think of how many different individuals rely on blood donations, until we or someone we know needs it. In fact, in Northern Ohio the Red Cross provides blood for patients in more than 70 local hospitals in Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown and Toledo.
Who are some of the people who rely on blood donations? Below are just a few:
Cancer patients may need blood transfusions to implement platelets back into the body after treatments such as chemo or radiation therapy. Certain cancers can also affect a patient’s ability to produce their own platelets.
When a patient comes into an emergency department with a trauma injury and there’s no time to check the patient’s blood type, emergency providers use type O negative red blood cells and type AB plasma. O negative blood cells and AB plasma can be transfused into any patient, regardless of blood type. However, less than 7 percent of the population has type O negative blood, and only about 4 percent have type AB Blood. A constant flow of blood donors who have these blood types are critical to keep up with hospital demand, and to help emergency providers save lives.
Sickle Cell Patients
Sickle cell disease affects about 100,000 people in the United States, and causes red blood cells to harden and form a C-shape. When these cells harden, they can get caught in blood vessels and cause serious complications like respiratory conditions, organ failure, stroke or severe pain. While there is no cure for the disease, there is a critical treatment—blood transfusions.
Burn patients may experience blood loss through surgery or anemia. These individuals may need blood transfusion to replace the blood or red blood cells lost.
Patients Who Have Major Surgeries
Patients who have a major surgical procedure may need a blood transfusion to replace any blood loss that occurred during their surgery.
Patients with Chronic Diseases
Patient with certain chronic diseases or disorders may require blood transfusions. Some may need blood transfusions throughout their lives.
The next time you see one of those signs, one of our advertisements or think about the Red Cross, take the next step. Schedule an appointment to donate blood. Your donation helps people in your community – and you never know if that person could be standing right beside you. To take that next step now, visit www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive to find an upcoming blood drive or donation site near you.
Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer
For 23 years, the Give from the Heart blood drive has been a lifesaving tradition in Northern Ohio. This year’s event was held last Tuesday, Feb. 8 at the Cleveland Marriott East in Warrensville Heights.
This blood drive came at a vital time, as the Red Cross continues to struggle with a national blood crisis. The current nationwide shortage has been further impacted by winter weather across the country, with about 600 blood drives cancelled forcing 20,000 donations to go uncollected.
Across the Northern Ohio Region, 21 blood drives were cancelled Thursday, February 3 leaving more than 730 donations uncollected.
The more than 260 donations made at the Give from the Heart blood drive will potentially help up to 800 patients.
We encourage donors to make an appointment for future blood drives by visiting redcrossblood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App.
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.
If you are not able to give blood, the Red Cross also needs blood drive volunteers and blood transportation specialists to support critical blood collections. 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 provide a critical link between blood donors and blood recipients by delivering blood to hospitals our local communities. To learn more and sign-up, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.
Bring hope to the holidays by donating on Giving Tuesday or giving blood to help overcome the nation’s emergency blood shortage
In 2021, people in Northern Ohio and across the country faced great emergency needs as the ongoing pandemic exacerbated the challenges related to severe disasters, blood shortages and global conflict.
“Our most vulnerable neighbors are facing unique and pressing struggles when crisis strikes on top of COVID-19,” Mike Parks, Regional CEO said. “This holiday season, join us to provide help and hope in these difficult moments by making a financial donation or by giving blood or platelets.”
Visit redcross.org to make a financial donation or an appointment to give blood or platelets. Individuals can also learn about volunteer opportunities in their area and give back in honor of American Red Cross founder Clara Barton, whose 200th birthday will be commemorated on December 25.
RELENTLESS DISASTERS COMPOUND COVID-19 STRUGGLES 2021 marked one of the country’s most active years for severe weather — which battered many communities still reeling from last year’s disasters. For thousands of people in need, the Red Cross launched a new major relief effort every 11 days to provide refuge, food and care.
This year, a family displaced by a disaster in the U.S. spent an average of nearly 30 days in a Red Cross-supported emergency shelter. These extended stays were largely due to a lack of savings and community housing shortages — signs that climate-driven disasters are compounding the financial hardships of the pandemic.
65 disaster workers from Northern Ohio, most of them volunteers, helped people across the country who were impacted by disasters, including western wildfires, Hurricane Ida, Tropical Storms Fred and Henri, flooding in middle Tennessee, and the repatriation of refugees from Afghanistan in Maryland, Virginia and Wisconsin.
In Northern Ohio, Red Cross workers responded to nearly 1,200 disasters – the vast majority of them home fires. More than 1,800 families received assistance in the immediate hours and days after experiencing their darkest hours.
GLOBAL CONFLICT CREATES MASS NEEDS FOR DISPLACED FAMILIES Around the world, massive humanitarian needs emerged in 2021 for a growing number of families displaced by the overlapping challenges of conflict, COVID-19 and climate change. This year, at the request of federal government partners, Red Cross workers from Northern Ohio and across the country distributed more than 2.1 million essential items — like blankets, diapers, medicine and toys — for Afghan evacuees arriving on U.S. military bases and unaccompanied children seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.
COVID-19 STRAINS BLOOD SUPPLY FOR PATIENTS To meet the increasing needs of hospital patients, the Red Cross distributed 250,000 more blood products in 2021 than last year, until the delta variant began to spread in August. The pandemic also resulted in fewer blood drives at schools and colleges, contributing to a 34% drop in new blood donors from last year — one of the largest year-to-year decreases and one that could threaten essential medical care for patients. Locally, the Northern Ohio Red Cross Region has experienced a 32% decrease in new blood donors this year.
As a result of low blood donor turnout in recent months, the Red Cross is heading into the holidays with its lowest blood supply in more than a decade at this time of year. Blood donations are desperately needed now to meet the needs of accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.
All those who come to give Nov. 29-Dec.16 will automatically be entered for the chance to win a private screening for the winner and 50 of their guests of the epic new film The Matrix Resurrections. Plus, those who come to give Nov. 29-Dec. 16 will also get a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card by email, thanks to Amazon.*
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.*
*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
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.