Donors needed to give blood to help address significant shortage
OAKLAND, Calif. (July 26, 2016) — The Vallejo and surrounding Oakland communities are encouraged to help save lives by donating blood in honor of 17-year-old blood recipient Tyra Watkins on Aug. 6 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Second Baptist Church, 1170 Benicia Road.
The American Red Cross recently issued an emergency call for blood donors. At times, blood and platelets are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in, which impacts the ability to rebuild the blood supply. Right now, the Red Cross has less than a five-day blood supply on hand. The Red Cross strives to have a five-day supply at all times to meet the needs of patients every day and be prepared for emergencies that may require significant volumes of donated blood products.
Because of generous blood donors, the Red Cross is able to provide blood products to patients like Watkins.
A Vallejo resident, her struggle with sickle cell anemia, a disorder that causes red blood cells to form an abnormal crescent shape, has resulted in multiple blood transfusions to help improve her quality of life.
One of her most difficult challenges is that she only can receive very specific blood that has been matched beyond the traditional ABO typing. Her journey has inspired family and friends to sponsor blood drives in her honor to give back to others in need.
“Most of us know someone or have been the one who requires blood transfusions,” said Eileen Randle, Watkins’ great aunt. “I just pray that more people are willing to share the gift of life with those who need it. I hope people realize the importance and the need for all the community to give blood, especially African- and Hispanic-Americans.”
Diversity among blood donors is important because red blood cells carry markers that determine blood type, and certain blood types are unique to specific racial and ethnic groups. Patients are less likely to experience complications from blood donated by someone with a similar ethnicity.
“Generous volunteer blood donors are the only source to help patients in need,” said Neil Tosuntikool, Donor Recruitment director of the Red Cross Northern California Blood Services Region. “Hospital patients continue to need lifesaving blood this summer, and they’re relying on the generosity of volunteer donors to give them hope in the days and weeks ahead.”
The Red Cross relies on volunteer donors for the approximately 14,000 blood donations needed every day to support patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide. Blood donors of all types are needed to help accident and burn victims, heart surgery patients, organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.
Blood donation appointments can be scheduled by using the sponsor code tyrabtt through the Red Cross Blood Donor App, online at redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Blood donors also can save time by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.
About donating blood or platelets
A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required when checking in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), 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 have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.