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.
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