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 Northeastern Pennsylvania 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.
Alex Douglass, a Scranton native, received multiple blood transfusions after he was critically injured due to a sniper attack at the Blooming Grove barracks in September 2014, which killed Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II, of Dunmore.
Since the shooting, Trooper Douglass, 33, underwent 17 major surgeries, and spent several months in and out of hospitals. Additional surgeries are still a possibility and he currently cannot feel his right leg below his knee. Physical therapy helped him regain feeling above his knee and he is continuing therapy two days a week.
While his recovery has been a slow process, Douglass tries to remain hopeful and keep a positive mindset. He exercises regularly and has even competed in marathons since he was shot. He doesn’t think about the shooting and, instead, focuses on his recovery and his goal of returning to work with the state police in the future.
When asked why he thinks it is important for people to become regular blood donors, Trooper Douglass simply replies, “Because it helped save my life. I would not be here today if there had not been blood available when I needed it.”
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.