Down, but not out – Blood supplies are still vulnerable

By Doug Bardwell, Red Cross Volunteer

Last month the blood supply was in “crisis.” This month it’s rated “vulnerable.” Neither of those are optimal – the latter being only incrementally better. Bottom line = we still need everyone to donate if they are able.

Photo Credit: Doug Bardwell, Red Cross Volunteer

With relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, doctors are once again allowing elective surgery. Don’t associate “elective” with just things as tummy tucks and facelifts.

Elective means it can be scheduled in advance instead of being scheduled as an emergency. Some heart surgeries, including bypass and valve surgeries, as well as some cancer surgeries or biopsies are scheduled electively. When elective surgeries are delayed for too long, life-threatening emergencies can occur.

Since issuing its first-ever blood crisis alert, severe winter weather has further complicated efforts to rebuild the Red Cross blood supply. So far in 2022, approximately 600 blood drives have been canceled across the country due to winter storms, forcing nearly 20,000 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected.

Photo Credit: Doug Bardwell, Red Cross Volunteer

Don’t let the supply go back to “crisis” mode – make and keep those appointments. It’s quick and easy to find a location and time near you at redcrossblood.org.

If you have either type O positive or O negative – you are needed most urgently:
o Type O positive is the most transfused blood type and can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type.
o Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations.

Platelet donations are also urgently needed. Platelets are the clotting portion of blood, which must be transfused within five days of donation. Nearly half of all platelet donations are given to patients undergoing cancer treatments.

Need more motivation???

For drives March 1-31: All who come to give blood or platelets will get a $10 e-gift card, thanks to Fanatics, world’s largest collection of officially licensed sports gear.

Plus, donors will also automatically be entered for a chance to win a trip for two to the 2022 MLB® All-Star Game® in Los Angeles, California, when you come to give March 1-31. The package includes two tickets to 2022 MLB® All-Star Saturday, the 2022 Home Run Derby and the 2022 MLB® All-Star Game®, round-trip airfare to Los Angeles, four-night hotel accommodations (July 16-20, 2022), plus a $750 gift card for expenses. Details available at rcblood.org/team.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Blood donations needed as cancer patients resume care after challenging year

American Red Cross and American Cancer Society partner to help patients and encourage donors to Give Blood to Give Time

CLEVELAND, June 7, 2021 – The American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society have teamed up this June to encourage people across the country to Give Blood to Give Time and help ensure loved ones have the strength and support they need as they undergo cancer treatment.

According to the American Cancer Society, many patient visits and procedures were forced to delay or cancel early in the pandemic to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. With procedures resuming, blood donations are critical for cancer treatments. Unfortunately, the Red Cross is seeing fewer blood and platelet donors give as the nation begins to climb out of this pandemic. This downturn comes at a time when the Red Cross continues to see strong demand for blood products − including platelets − by hospitals, causing concern for the sufficiency of the blood supply this month and throughout the summer.

The Red Cross currently has an emergency need for eligible donors in Northern Ohio to make an appointment now to give platelets to ensure critical patient needs are met. Platelets, the clotting portion of blood primarily given to cancer patients during treatment, must be transfused within five days of donation and, therefore, are always in great demand.

“Many cancer patients, especially those going through chemotherapy, will have a need for blood products during treatment,” said Dr. Baia Lasky, medical director for the Red Cross. “When someone donates blood or platelets, they may not only help prevent life-threatening bleeding that can cause stroke or relieve some symptoms, like shortness of breath and headaches, but also give patients and their families the time and hope they need to fight back.”

Some types of chemotherapy can damage bone marrow, reducing red blood cell and platelet production. Other times, the cancer itself or surgical procedures cause the need for blood products. About six blood products are needed every minute to help someone going through cancer treatment. Yet only 3% of people in the U.S. give blood. It is vital that more people donate blood and platelets regularly to meet that need.

To schedule a blood or platelet donation appointment, visit GiveBloodToGiveTime.org. As a special thank-you, those who come to donate through June 13 will receive a limited-edition Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.

“The need for blood in cancer treatments is an important and untold story,” said Howard Byck, senior vice president of corporate and sports alliances, American Cancer Society. “The American Cancer Society is excited to be working with the Red Cross on Give Blood to Give Time. Through this partnership, we want people to know there are multiple ways they can help and make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients and their families.”

The Red Cross not only has an emergency need for platelets, but also for type O blood donors, as hospital demand for these blood products continues to outpace donations.Type O blood is the most needed blood group by hospitals. Type O positive is the most transfused blood type and can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type. 

Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations. Visit redcrossblood.org to find the blood drive that fits your schedule.

Help now: Type O blood shortage

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

Spring is a busy time of year for many people, but the need for blood and platelets doesn’t let up. Last month, more than 11,500 fewer donations were collected than needed as spring break schedules and end of the school year activities contributed to a low turnout of blood donors. As a result, the American Red Cross has a critical shortage of type O blood and urges type O donors to give now to ensure blood is available for patients in need of lifesaving treatments or facing traumas.

Type O_Critical need

Right now, the Red Cross has less than a two-day supply of type O blood available for emergency rooms – where it can be most critical. Type O donations are being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in. Type O blood is the most needed blood group by hospitals but is often in short supply. Here in the Northern Ohio Blood Services Region, approximately 500 pints of blood are needed every day to help meet patient needs. The Region serves more than 50 hospitals who depend on the Red Cross for a strong, local blood supply.

Monroe Carell Jr Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville, Tennessee 2019

All eligible donors – especially type O donors – are urged to roll up a sleeve as soon as possible. In thanks for helping meet patient needs, those who come to donate blood or platelets with the Red Cross May 1-June 10 will receive a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card via email. (Restrictions apply, see amazon.com/gc-legal. Additional information and details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/Together.)

Don’t wait – help now!

  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). Donors can also give throughout northeast Ohio at the Red Cross donation centers in Parma, Akron and Cleveland.
  2. Let your friends and family know there is a type O #BloodShortage and ask them to give now.
  3. Bring someone to donate with you.

Blood Drive, Fairfax, Virginia 2018

Every day, volunteer blood and platelet donors across the country are needed to help save lives. Your support can help ensure that blood products are there for accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

Make an appointment to give now.