EVANSVILLE, Ind. (Nov. 11, 2020) — With the upcoming holidays, cold and flu season and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the American Red Cross needs healthy blood donors to ensure blood products are available for patients this holiday season. That’s why the Red Cross is teaming up with 44 News to encourage individuals of all blood types to roll up a sleeve at the 44 News Give Thanks, Give Life Blood Drive Nov. 23 from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the American Red Cross, 29 S. Stockwell Road in Evansville.
Jana Toombs, a recovered COVID-19 patient and convalescent plasma donor, knows first-hand the impact blood donors have.
“My husband and I had a baby boy, Braxton, that was born at 23 weeks old with several heart issues,” said Jana. “He was in NICU for two and a half months before later passing away. During his time in the hospital, he received a few blood transfusions and we were so thankful that each time he needed the transfusion, there was blood available.”
To aid in fighting the pandemic, Jana, a secretary with Fairfield Public School District #112, in Fairfield, has been able to pay it forward by donating convalescent plasma at the American Red Cross Blood Donation Center in Evansville to help critically ill COVID-19 patients.
“I want to be able to help others that need it,” said Jana. “My aunt had some terrible complications from COVID and had to be put on a ventilator and no one was able to be there with her. Thankfully, they were able to find plasma for her. Once she had that plasma, the doctors could see a huge change in her recovery. I know there is a shortage and I’m so thankful that I’m able to give to others to help them out.”
Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. Volunteer donors are the only source of blood products for those in need of transfusions. The 44 News Give Thanks, Give Life Blood Drive comes as the Red Cross has a need for eligible donors of all blood types to give this holiday.
As a special thank you, all presenting donors will receive a long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirt, breakfast from Donut Bank from 6-8 a.m., lunch from Texas Roundhouse from 11 a.m.-1p.m., dinner from Olive Garden from 5-7p.m. and dessert from Pie Pan, all while supplies last. Presenting donors will also be automatically entered for a chance to win an Outdoor Living Experience, Powered by Propane.
“This year’s 44 News Give Thanks, Give Life Blood Drive comes as the blood supply already faces challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic in addition to the traditional slump in blood donations between Thanksgiving and New Year’s,” said Tiffany Taylor, external communications manager for the Red Cross River Valley Blood Services Region. “Medical treatments and emergencies don’t pause for the holidays or a widespread coronavirus pandemic. A blood donation at the Give Thanks, Give Life Blood Drive, signifies a new meaning of gratitude this year.”
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 an individual developed COVID-19 symptoms. 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 donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus. 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, visit RedCrossBlood.org and enter sponsor code: GiveThanks, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) 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 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.