Blood donors and drives help Red Cross maintain nation’s blood supply

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

April 9, 2019- Thanks to the many donors who gave blood and scheduled upcoming appointments, and to the sponsors of blood drives during this uncertain time, the American Red Cross has been able to meet immediate patient needs. We encourage individuals to keep their scheduled blood donation appointments and to make new appointments for the weeks ahead to ensure a stable supply throughout this pandemic.

Donating blood is essential to ensuring the health of our communities. The need for blood is constant, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need.

Blood drives across Northern Ohio, such as the one held at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, provide an opportunity for blood donors to donate lifesaving blood at a convenient location.

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“Its been incredibly encouraging, and we’re very thankful to the community for their continued support in the midst of so much uncertainty,” said Christy Peters, external communications manager, Northern Ohio Biomedical Services.

Following a very successful blood drive on March 27, which saw 135 pints of blood donated, officials at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse decided to hold another blood drive on April 7. The decision to hold another blood drive proved to be the right decision as the community showed their generosity by filing into the arena once again to donate blood to help others in need.

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Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse will be holding another blood drive on April 24.

Similar stories are being told across the Northern Ohio Region of local communities coming together to ensure the blood supply is well maintained for those who are in need, such as patients undergoing cancer treatment.

On April 8, Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan joined residents to donate blood at the blood drive being held at the Joy Park Community Center.

Akron Mayor

Mayor Daniel Horrigan

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control. To ensure the health of employees, volunteers and staff, precautions include checking temperatures of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy, providing hand sanitizer for use before the drive, as well as throughout the donation process, following social distancing between donors including entry, donation and refreshment areas, routinely disinfecting surfaces, equipment and donor-touched areas, wearing gloves, and changing gloves often, using sterile collection sets and an aseptic scrub for every donation and staff wearing basic face masks.

Blood donation is essential to ensuring the health of our communities. The need for blood is constant, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need.

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Every day patients rely on lifesaving blood transfusions including those who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer. Right now, people are following public health guidance to keep their families safe and that includes contributing to a readily available supply of blood for hospitals.

This is the time to take care of one another. If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment to donate by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

First time donor gives blood to aid with shortage

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

March 25, 2020- The COVID-19 outbreak is all anyone can talk about in Northeast Ohio. Beyond the immediate health emergency, the virus is threatening to create additional future public health emergencies due to the current blood shortage.

As of March 23, about 7,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in more than 200,000 fewer blood donations. This is why the Red Cross is asking all healthy and eligible individuals to donate lifesaving blood.

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Jenna Ostrowski with Regional CEO Mike Parks

On March 20, the Cleveland Clinic lent a helping hand to put an end to the blood shortage by opening their doors to host a much needed blood drive.

One of the donors present at the blood drive was Jenna Ostrowski, a medical technologist in the Automated Hematology Department. This moment was a milestone for Jenna, as she was a first time blood donor, who was motivated to take the leap to officially become a blood donor due to the need following the outbreak.

“I figured now is the time, since so many people need blood. It’s a good opportunity for caregivers since the drive is right here at the Clinic,” stated Jenna.

Red Cross of Northeast Ohio Regional CEO Mike Parks was present at the blood drive, thanking Cleveland Clinic President Tomislav Mihaljevic for opening the Cleveland Clinic’s doors to host the blood drive and to thank donors like Jenna for giving the gift of life.

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Tomislav Mihaljevic speaking with Mike Parks

Everyone at the Red Cross understands why people may be hesitant to come out for a blood drive, but we want to assure the public that we are taking additional precautions to ensure the safety of our donors, volunteers and staff.

Volunteers and staff are checking the temperature of  everyone before they enter a drive to make sure they are healthy. Hand sanitizer is available for use before entering the drive, as well as throughout the donation process. We are also spacing beds, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between blood donors.

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Red Cross employees follow strict safety procedures, including wearing gloves and changing them often, wiping down all donor-touched surfaces and equipment and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.

If you are a first-time donor, like Jenna, click here to learn some helpful best practices.

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If you are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give blood or platelets, please make an appointment to donate 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).

To view more photos from the Cleveland Clinic blood drive, visit the Northeast Ohio Region Flickr page.

My first attempt to donate blood

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

Editors note: The American Red Cross now faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during this coronavirus outbreak.  Through March 17, nearly 4,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in more than 100,000 fewer blood donations. Healthy individuals are needed to donate now to help patients counting on lifesaving blood.

March 18, 2020- You’ve seen the advertisements and signs before—the ones that list upcoming American Red Cross blood drives in your area. You may drive past the sign on your way home or see something about a local drive on your social media feed. Like many people, I am not fond of needles. This is why for many years I went without donating blood.

This year, I was determined to put my nerves aside to take part in my first blood drive. I found a local site and signed up for a time slot, hoping that scheduling an appointment would help avoid any lines. When I arrived, there were several people donating and several more getting their screenings completed.

Blood bank Campaign ceremony 2017

Laurie Brungeau giving blood during the launch of the Haitian Red Cross blood collection center in Port-au-Prince. The Haitian Red Cross suffered serious damage during the earthquake, but thanks to their hard work–and capacity-building investments from partners like the American Red Cross — they have stregthened and become more sustainable over the years. Photo: Garry Calixte/American Red Cross

After registering and completing my pre-screening, it was time to donate. The nurse asked me which arm I prefer, to which I answered, “Whichever arm that you can find a vein.” The nurse asked me if I have had trouble with nurses finding my veins in the past. They have but I didn’t think that would be an issue for donating. These volunteers do this regularly and are pros, right?

While the nurses at the donation site were, in fact, seasoned experts, the two nurses who checked still had trouble finding a viable vein to use in my arm. Out of caution for my well-being, they told me I wasn’t able to donate. I was incredibly disappointed that of all reasons to be turned away as a donor, it was my lack of a viable vein!

Blood Drive New York 2018

This experience showed me just how important it is for those who can donate blood to do so. After sharing my experience with a few friends, I learned that many of them had similar experiences. From my friends and the nurses at the blood drive, I learned a few best practices I wanted to share for those looking to donate:

  • Drink lots of water before you donate – the day before and the day of your donation.
  • Avoid caffeine to avoid detracting from #1.
  • The magic number for your iron level is 12.5. They test this before you actually start your donation to make sure you have the minimum level.
  • Complete the RapidPass online before you donate to save time at the blood donation location. This contains the pre-donation packet reading and health history questions donors need to complete.
  • Bring some music or reading when you donate. It only takes 8-10 minutes to do the actual blood donation but having something to do can help pass the time, especially if you are nervous.

Knowing these things, I plan to go back again soon to see if I can donate. I hope my story encourages you to donate as well.

Blood Drive, Fairfax, Virginia 2018

Currently, there is an urgent need for blood due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Right now, eligible and healthy donors are strongly urged to make an appointment to give soon. To schedule an appointment and for information on enhanced blood donation safety related to Coronavirus, visit: https://www.redcrossblood.org.

For those who can’t donate, the Red Cross offers volunteer opportunities to support  blood drives. You can learn more about these at: https://www.redcross.org/local/ohio/northeast/volunteer.html.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Enjoy the open road as you help save lives

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

January 10, 2020- Do you enjoy the freedom of driving on the open road? Are you always volunteering to drive around family and friends? Are you looking for an opportunity to help save lives, while enjoying your love of driving? Well, you are in luck!

Volunteer Couriers

The American Red Cross is currently looking for passionate drivers to serve as volunteer transportation specialists in Cuyahoga County. This unique opportunity allows volunteers to support blood pick-up at both mobile and fixed site blood drives in Cuyahoga County.

The Red Cross collects and distributes about 40% of our nation’s blood supply. As a volunteer transportation specialist, when you pick up blood, platelets or other blood products from a blood collection site or deliver them to a hospital, you’re delivering lifesaving hope to a person in need.

Volunteer Couriers

Still not sure if this is quite the right fit? Listen to Peter Hoffman, one of the transportation specialists in Cuyahoga County. Hear why Peter volunteers with the Red Cross, some of his tasks and the feeling he gets from helping others in need.

For more information and to apply to become a volunteer transportation specialist, visit redcross.org/volunteer or call 216-431-3328.

 

N_tice _nything missing? Help the Red Cross fill the Missing Types

By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Northern Ohio Blood Region

June 13, 2019- When the letters A, B and O vanish from everyday life, the gaps are striking. And when A, B, O and AB blood types are missing from hospital shelves, lives could be changed forever.

MT 2019_InfographicOn June 11 the American Red Cross partnered with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to launch the Missing Types campaign to raise awareness of the need for new and current blood donors to donate and help ensure blood is available for patients in need this summer. The O’s in Long Live Rock disappeared during the launch, to illustrate the critical role every blood donor plays in ensuring the main blood groups – A, B and O, are available whenever and wherever needed.

A sad truth is only 3 out of 100 Americans donate blood each year, but every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. If more people roll up a sleeve to give, blood shortages can be prevented.

Why blood donors are needed

Tymia McCullough relies on blood donations to help battle sickle cell disease, an inherited disease that causes red blood cells to form in an abnormal crescent shape. Sickle cell disease patients can suffer a range of conditions, including acute anemia, tissue and organ damage, terrible pain and even strokes.

With no widely used cure, regular blood transfusions are one of the most common treatments for sickle cell disease. At one time, when McCullough arrived at the hospital, the blood type she needed for her transfusion was not available.

“It was the scariest, most frightening moment of a mother’s life, because I thought that she would not be able to get it,” said Susie Pitts, Tymia’s mother. “In that moment, in that experience, I was very afraid. I was scared for my daughter’s life ─ what was going to happen if she didn’t get the blood she needed?”

Eight hours later, the nurse came running through the door with the needed blood product.

Again, this past fall Tymia experienced a painful sickle cell crisis and needed to wait 10 long hours for the hospital to locate the blood she needed for her treatment. Thankfully, Tymia is better today, yet her experience illustrates the ongoing need for blood, and at times, the frightening reality patients face when needed blood supplies become critically low.

Make a difference today

  • Spread the word
  • Write out your name with the A’s, B’s and O’s missing on the “blank” selfie sign, and take a photo with it. (Underscores are recommended. Example: _meric_n Red Cr_ss. Basic directions are also posted at the previous link for your convenience.)
  • Visit RedCrossBlood.org to share a Missing Types message on your social media.

Commit about an hour of your day to give blood and help save a life. Patients need you.

Six things to know before donating:

  1. You don’t need to know your blood type.
    According to a national survey conducted earlier this year on behalf of the Red Cross, more than half (54%) of people believe they need to know their blood type to donate blood. This is simply untrue.
  2. Hydrate – drink an extra 16 oz. of liquid before and after donating.
  3. Enjoy a healthy meal rich in iron and vitamin C before donating – avoid foods high in fat just prior to donation.
  4. Wear comfortable clothing with sleeves that can be raised above the elbow.
  5. Complete a RapidPass on the day of donation, prior to arriving, to save time.
  6. Remember to bring an ID.

Help fill in the missing types this summer. Schedule a donation appointment now.

Click here to visit out Flickr account to view photos from the Missing Type kick-off event at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Our thanks to Joann Fabric and Craft Stores for providing the material used to cover the letter “O” in the Long Live Rock sculpture.

This article was edited by Glenda Bogar,  American Red Cross volunteer

Premier Partner Program & sponsors

By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Northern Ohio Blood Region

March 25, 2019- Recently, the American Red Cross presented Kalahari Resorts & Conventions with its Premier Blood Drive Partner award. The Premier Partner program recognizes blood drive sponsors who have collected at least 50 pints in a year. Last year, Kalahari collected 115 pints of lifesaving blood for local patients.

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Kalahari Resorts & Conventions recently received the Premier Blood Drive Partner Award earlier this year. L to R: Angie Reyes, HR Director, Iryna Pylypenko, Employment Manager, Mary Ann Benton, Brian Shanle, General Manager

More than 80 percent of blood donations are made at blood drives organized by volunteer sponsor groups and coordinators. Right now, blood drive hosts are needed for spring and throughout the year. A blood drive is a commitment to help meet the needs of seriously ill or injured patients. Blood products are essential for the treatment of accident victims, surgical and sickle cell disease patients, those receiving cancer treatments, premature babies and others.

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James Lassiter III of Garfield Heights donated blood at a recent Kalahari hosted blood drive in February

Every single day, the Northern Ohio Blood Services Region needs to collect 500 pints of blood to meet the needs of patients at more than 50 local hospitals. This cannot happen without the support of blood drive sponsors. Become a blood drive sponsor and help save lives! To learn more about hosting a blood drive, visit https://www.redcrossblood.org/hosting-a-blood-drive/learn-about-hosting/why-host-a-blood-drive.html or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

 

Bleed for the Throne: The Red Cross is calling on all Game of Thrones fans to donate blood

February 21, 2019 – Arya, Cersei, Jon and Tyrion, have all bled for the throne. To celebrate the final season of Game of Thrones, the American Red Cross and HBO have forged an alliance, challenging superfans and donors to show their devotion and bleed for the throne as well.

The Red Cross and HBO invite all fans of the hit show to join us by scheduling your blood or platelet donation today, and you could find out who’ll bleed in season 8 before the rest of the world!

Winter is here. With thousands of blood donations uncollected due to snow
storms and extreme cold over the past couple of months, the Red Cross and
HBO urge individuals to roll up a sleeve and give blood as soon as possible to
ensure critical medical treatments or emergency care are not delayed or
canceled.

“We are incredibly excited to mobilize the global army of Game of Thrones fans to make a positive impact on the world” said Zach Enterlin, Executive Vice President, Program Marketing, HBO. “In partnership with the American Red Cross, we’re creating a unique platform to engage our tremendously passionate fanbase, and ultimately showcase the bravery and valor of those fans who will go so far as to bleed for the throne.”

“The American Red Cross is thrilled to partner with HBO and Game of Thrones. Every day, thousands of patients across the country are dependent on voluntary blood donors to help them fight for their lives,” said Cliff Numark, Senior Vice President, American Red Cross Blood Services. “Winter is finally here, and the needs are dire. No matter who you’re rooting for to take the throne, you can be a hero for patients in need.”

GOT T-shirtIf you donate blood from now until March 17, you’ll automatically be entered for a chance to win one of five trips to the season 8 world premiere of Game of Thrones! The trip includes travel for two, up to two nights hotel accommodations and a $250 gift card for expenses.

In addition, if you donate from March 7-12, you’ll also receive this exclusive Game of Thrones T-shirt and sticker with a unique Snapchat filter, while supplies last!

Schedule your donation today and start thinking about which lucky friend or family member might accompany you to the premiere!

So, there’s only one question remaining. How far will you go #ForTheThrone?

To find upcoming Northeast Ohio blood drives and to schedule your donation  and to read the terms and conditions, please visit RedCrossBlood.org/HBOGameofThrones.