The American Red Cross along with actor James Van Der Beek and his wife, Kimberly, have joined together to urge all who are healthy to make this a summer full of life for patients by scheduling an appointment to give blood or platelets.
As the nation transitions to a new, hopeful phase of this devastating pandemic and people begin to return to some of their favorite activities, the Red Cross is concerned about the impact this could have on blood donor turnout and the blood supply this summer. The need for lifesaving blood transfusions never takes a break. It’s critical to have blood ready to go when every second counts.
The Van Der Beek family knows firsthand how important blood donations are in a health crisis. In the past year, Kimberly Van Der Beek experienced back-to-back pregnancy losses. Each time she needed emergency hospital care and blood transfusions to save her life.
“Donating blood is something that I’ve always done throughout my life,” said James Van Der Beek. “It seemed important. But I never knew how important until the woman I love most was in a situation where that much blood made the difference between life and death. It just brought it home in a very real way.”
Hemorrhaging is the leading cause of pregnancy-related complications that can occur anytime during pregnancy. “In instances of severe bleeding, blood transfusions often play a lifesaving role,” said Dr. Ross Herron, divisional chief medical officer for the Red Cross. “For mothers with complicated pregnancies or deliveries, generous donors are the only source of the transfusions they may need to survive.”
“If you’ve never given blood before, allow this to be your formal invitation. Will you please give blood?,” added Kimberly Van Der Beek.
Individuals of all blood types are urged to schedule an appointment now to give blood, and in most cases, those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine can donate. However, knowing the name of the manufacturer of the vaccine they received is important in determining donation eligibility.
Appointments can be made by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.
In thanks for making it a summer full of life, those who come to give blood, platelets or plasma in May will automatically be entered for a chance to win a travel trailer camper that sleeps five*, powered by Suburban Propane, via their SuburbanCares initiative. The Red Cross is also thanking those who come to donate May 28-June 13 with a limited-edition T-shirt, while supplies last.
“Suburban Propane is honored to partner with the American Red Cross and actor James Van Der Beek on their summer campaign to help bring attention to the need for blood donations,” said Nandini Sankara, Spokesperson for Suburban Propane. “Our SuburbanCares corporate pillar highlights our continued dedication to giving back to our local communities and through this platform, we support a host of community outreach initiatives throughout the nation; including our national partnership with the American Red Cross. It is our hope that this promotion for a chance to win a travel (trailer) camper will encourage donors to show their support and to help fulfill the need for blood collection.”
Health insights 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.
Plasma from routine blood and platelet donations that test positive for high levels of antibodies may be used as convalescent plasma to meet potential future needs of COVID-19 patients. 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.
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.
At a time when health information has never been more important, the Red Cross is also screening all blood, platelet and plasma donations from self-identified African American donors for the sickle cell trait. This additional screening will provide Black donors with an additional health insight and help the Red Cross identify compatible blood types more quickly to help patients with sickle cell disease. Blood transfusion is an essential treatment for those with sickle cell disease, and blood donations from individuals of the same race, ethnicity and blood type have a unique ability to help patients fighting sickle cell disease.
Donors can expect to receive antibody test and sickle cell trait screening results, if applicable, within one to two weeks through the Red Cross Blood Donor App and the online donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.
Blood drive safety
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 masks 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 mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.