The American Red Cross has issued an emergency call for blood and platelets, urging all eligible donors to give now to replenish an extremely low summer blood supply.
Blood donations have fallen short of hospital needs for the past few months, resulting in about 39,000 fewer donations than what’s needed, as well as a significant draw down of the overall Red Cross blood supply. In addition, the Independence Day holiday may have caused many regular donors to postpone donations due to vacation plans. A recent Red Cross poll revealed that more than 75 percent of donors surveyed indicated vacation plans this summer, many of them occurring the weeks before and after July 4.
“Right now, blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in, which is why we are making this emergency request for donations,” said Beth Toll of the Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region. “Donations are urgently needed now to meet the needs of hospital patients in the coming days and weeks. If you’ve thought about giving blood and helping to save lives, now is the time to do it. It’s the blood donations on the shelves that help save lives when an emergency occurs.”
How to Help
To schedule an appointment to donate, use the free Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). The Red Cross is extending hours at many donation sites to allow for more donors to make an appointment to give. Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to avoid longer wait times. Donors with all blood types are needed.
Those unable to give can still help by encouraging others to give through a SleevesUp virtual blood drive at redcrossblood.org/sleevesup, giving of their time through volunteerism or making a financial donation to support Red Cross humanitarian work across the country and around the world.
Who Blood Donations Help
Every two seconds in the United States blood and platelets are needed to respond to patient emergencies, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant procedures, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease. The Red Cross must collect approximately 14,000 blood and platelet donations every day for patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide.
Carol Axelrod, a single mother of two daughters, was an elementary school teacher in Philadelphia for more than 30 years. In April 2003, she was 55-years-old and planning retirement when she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Carol began receiving transfusions at least two times per week for a year, during which time her body was not able to tolerate any form of treatment to fight the cancer itself. She was completely dependent on blood products and continued to survive only because blood was readily available every time she needed it. Thus, she was able to celebrate her 60th birthday and see her only grandchild turn three years old before she passed away in July 2008.
“Our family knows from personal experience that blood donors give hospital patients and their loved ones an incomparable gift: the gift of time,” said Michelle Scolnick, Axelrod’s daughter and longtime Red Cross volunteer. “Whether a blood donation is used to help save a life, to prolong a life, or to improve the quality of life, it allows families to spend more time together, making special memories. Thanks to the generosity of blood donors, our family was given another year with Carol, who was the mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, and aunt we loved.”
A Red Cross blood drive, hosted by the Scolnick family, is being held in memory of Carol H. Axelrod on Wednesday, July 13 from 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. at The Reserve at Gwynedd located at 301 Primrose Drive in Lansdale.
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.