HUDSON, Wis. (April 7, 2021) - During COVID-19, life’s emergencies didn’t stop – and neither did the work of the American Red Cross. The need for blood is constant and throughout the pandemic, the Red Cross is grateful for generous blood donors who take time to donate lifesaving blood. Nic Peterson, from Hudson is a first-time blood donor and recently began to donate blood.
“I was always curious about donating blood and made up about every excuse possible. I was too busy, it wasn't convenient enough, I was a little nervous, is it going to hurt, will I faint like my Mom does, etc.,” said Nic Peterson. “Selfishly, when I learned that the Red Cross tests for COVID antibodies, I admittedly was simply curious if I ever had COVID and it made me take the leap!”
In June 2020 the Red Cross began testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies to help provide donors insight into whether they may have been exposed to coronavirus during this ongoing pandemic.
Since Peterson’s initial donation, he now tries to donate blood as much as he can at the Red Cross blood drive held at the American Legion in New Richmond. “The people working are awesome. I am a big introvert and a little shy. The staff is so welcoming and made me feel informed and comfortable. Plus, it hurts less than getting a shot, which I have no idea how that could be,” said Peterson.
To encourage others who may be hesitant to donate Peterson says, “Just try it one time. You don’t need to make the decision if this is something you are going to do forever. Give it a shot, see how you feel, and then decide if it is something you want to do moving forward. Even if you decide after one time that it isn’t for you, it still is a great feeling to know you helped someone that really needed it.”
Every two seconds in the United States blood is needed to respond to patient emergencies, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease. The Red Cross must collect nearly 13,000 blood and more than 2,600 platelet donations every day for the patients at about 2,500 hospitals nationwide.
Peterson is an advocate for the Red Cross mission. “When I think of the Red Cross, I do think of all of the great things they do such as helping in support and recovery during natural disasters, helping a family after their house burnt, or supplying blood to hospitals across the country. Now, what pulls at my heart strings the most is donating blood. When someone needs it, I have realized there is only one way to get it and that is by someone taking the time out of their day to donate it for others.”
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. Testing may also identify the presence of antibodies developed after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood product collected from COVID-19 survivors who have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus. Plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for high levels of COVID-19 antibodies may be used to help COVID-19 patients.
Donors can expect to receive the results of their antibody test within two weeks 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 American Red Cross Blood Donor App, schedule online, call 1-800-RED CROSS or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device 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, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.
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.