Help honor cancer patients by giving blood

September 28, 2009
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Red Cross encourages people to consider giving blood as a way to recognize the role blood can play in the care and treatment of people with cancer. During the month of October all donors can enter to win a pair of tickets to the Ohio State vs. Michigan football game in Ann Arbor on Nov. 21. 
About 1.5 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed by the end of 2009. By donating blood through the American Red Cross, you could give someone the hope they need to beat the disease. “Your donation may give someone another day to spend with their loved ones, or even a second chance at life,” said Rodney Wilson, communications manager for the Central Ohio Region of the American Red Cross. “Chances are there’s someone in your very community who needs blood.”
Every day, hospital patients undergoing treatment for cancer may depend on the availability of blood and platelets to help with their ongoing care. Most radiation and chemotherapies, for instance, can lower blood counts for red cells, white cells and platelets, while cancer-related surgeries can cause blood loss. Long-term cancer patients, too, may sometimes experience anemia or low platelet counts. All these instances, and more, may prompt doctors to prescribe transfusions of blood or platelets.
“The need for blood products varies by patient and by type of cancer,” said Wilson. “When you give through the Red Cross, you’ll help provide the blood and platelets patients need at 39 hospitals and cancer care facilities across Central Ohio.”
Recently, the Red Cross shortened the deferral criteria for donors with a history of nonhematologic cancer from five years to one year. Donors must be cancer-free for a year, have completed all their treatments, and meet all other eligibility criteria.  “If you’re a cancer survivor, and you’re eligible, we encourage you to donate blood,” said Wilson. “It’s a great way to give back, and to help others in need.”