SULLIVAN, Ill. (Aug. 25, 2020) — The community is invited to give blood in honor of River Helmuth at a special American Red Cross blood drive held in her name Saturday, Sept. 19,
8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Sullivan American Legion, 8 East Strain St., in Sullivan.
River is a four-and-a-half-year-old girl who was born with down syndrome and a congenital heart defect called balanced complete av canal defect, also known as CAVC. CAVC is a large hole in center of the heart affecting all four chambers. A CAVC allows blood to mix and causes the chambers and valves of the heart not to route blood properly. River has undergone two heart surgeries resulting in the need for donated blood which helped made her heart surgeries possible.
“We are calling family, friends, the community and anyone who loves to make a difference to come out and see us and donate blood,” said Stephanie Helmuth, River’s mother. “River would not be able to recover from her surgeries and would not be with us today without lifesaving transfusions.”
2017 was the first year the blood drive was held in River’s honor and to date 290 lifesaving donations have been collected.
“There are so many reasons why someone may need blood that we don’t even realize,” said Kelly Kaufman, donor recruitment account manager for the Red Cross. “We take for granted that blood will be there at the hospital when we need it, but it can only come from generous volunteer donors. Giving blood in River’s name is a wonderful way to honor this sweet girl and potentially help others with her condition.”
Important COVID-19 information for donors
The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether they developed symptoms. Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may qualify to be convalescent plasma donors. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus. Donors can expect to receive the results of their antibody test within 7 to 10 days through the Red Cross Blood Donor App or the donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.
The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.
How to donate blood
Simply download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information.. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at 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 have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, from a computer or mobile device. To get started and learn more, visit RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% 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.