SPOONER, Wis. (May 7, 2021) - Armed Forces Day is a federal holiday observed annually on the third Saturday of May. It is a day dedicated to honoring men and women who currently serve in the United States' armed forces. In support of this day, the American Red Cross pays tribute to James Bishop, from Spooner, a former airman who started giving blood in the 1970s.
Bishop got directly involved in the need for blood when a commanding officer underwent surgery at their base. “In 1972 at Great Falls, Montana, Malmstrom Air Force Base, the ‘Sarge’, a great guy, was having open heart surgery,” said Bishop.
“We got word that donating blood would defray the cost of his surgery and would generally help him. We were told our blood would replace any of the units he used. About 20 of us piled into cars and went downtown to the blood donation center.”
The “Sarge” eventually recovered thanks to the blood products available and he returned to duty. “After donating, we all felt pretty good about it.”
Bishop donated over two gallons of blood over his four-year tour and continues to donate today at the Red Cross Community Blood Drive in Spooner.
Every two seconds in the United States blood is needed to respond to patient emergencies, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease. The Red Cross must collect nearly 13,000 blood and more than 2,600 platelet donations every day for the patients at about 2,500 hospitals nationwide.
To encourage others who may be hesitant to donate Bishop says, “Your selfless giving makes you one of the noble many. I say continue the course. Do something outside of your comfort zone and give of yourself.”
In addition to providing biomedical services, the Red Cross proudly serves our nation’s military personnel and their families, including active duty, National Guard and Reserve, as well as veterans. For more than 135 years, the Red Cross has provided critical assistance to military families – beginning with our founder, Clara Barton, on Civil War battlefields. Recognizing service members and veterans is ingrained in the foundation of the Red Cross, on Armed Forces Day and throughout the year.
The Red Cross supports military members from the moment they enlist to the moment they separate from the service – and beyond. We offer critical assistance and resources to service members, veterans and their families globally 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. In 2020 alone, Wisconsin Region Red Cross staff and dozens of volunteers provided case services for 3,669 military personnel and their family.
Blood and platelet donors of all types are needed this month to help ensure blood products are available for patients now and into summer. In thanks for making it a summer full of life, those who come to give May 1-15 will receive a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card by email. Those who make it in to donate in May will also automatically be entered for a chance to win a travel trailer camper that sleeps five, powered by Suburban Propane.* Additional details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/SummerFullOfLife.
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.