During Trauma Awareness Month in May, the American Red Cross urges eligible donors to help ensure lifesaving blood is available for patients with traumatic injuries and other serious medical needs by donating blood or platelets.
According to the National Trauma Institute, trauma accounts for approximately 41 million emergency department visits and 2.3 million hospital admissions in the U.S. annually.
“A single car accident victim can need as many as 100 units of blood,” said Nick Gehrig, communications director, Red Cross Blood Services. “In trauma situations, when there’s no time to check a patient’s blood type, emergency personnel reach for type O negative red blood cells and type AB plasma.”
O negative red blood cells and AB plasma can be transfused into any patient, regardless of blood type, making donors with these universal blood types an important part of the Red Cross trauma team. Less than 7 percent of the population has type O negative blood, and only about 4 percent of the population has type AB blood.
Platelets may also be needed to help with clotting in cases of massive bleeding. Because platelets must be transfused within five days of donation, there is a constant – often critical – need to keep up with hospital demand.
“As a trauma surgeon, I know that a readily available blood supply can mean the difference between life and death for patients in the most serious situations,” said Dr. Gregory J. Jurkovich, board chair, National Trauma Institute; fellow, American College of Surgeons; and professor and vice chairman, Department of Surgery, University of California Davis Health. “Blood products can only be provided by generous donors, so I urge you to roll up a sleeve and help save lives.”
In 2014, donated blood helped save Ethan Moser’s life after his personal watercraft collided with the boat carrying his family. He suffered massive blood loss due to a severed femoral artery and other serious injuries. Moser received 160 transfusions of blood and blood products.
While his recovery continues, Moser remains grateful to the generous donors who provided the blood he received. “I’m here simply because there was enough blood available to replenish what I lost,” he said. “You never know when an accident’s going to happen, so please donate today to be sure blood is available for those who will need it.”
Blood and platelet donors of all types are currently needed. Those who come out to donate blood or platelets by May 14 will have a chance to win one of three $1,000 gift card shopping sprees from GiftCertificates.com. Donation appointments can be scheduled by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
How to help
Eligible donors can learn more, find a donation opportunity and schedule an appointment by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). 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 donation appointment 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 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.