When most of us think about giving back to our community, its usually in a form of a monetary donation, but that isn’t the only way you can give back. The American Red Cross provides blood products to someone in the U.S. every TWO seconds. Whether it is whole blood, red cells, platelets, plasma or something else, one donation can save up to three lives. Luckily, the American Red Cross has several convenient ways for you to donate. They regularly have mobile bus collections in the Tri-W area as well as blood drives at local schools and churches. And there is a large donation center in Charlotte on Park Rd that is also set up to collect platelets and power red donations.
As for where the donations go after they are collected, Maya Franklin, External Communications Manager for the American Red Cross, explains, “Locally, the Red Cross supports blood needs of Atrium Health with supplemental blood products and is the primary supplier for Novant Health. Through the Red Cross’ national inventory management system, the Red Cross is able to send blood throughout the United States, wherever a patient is in need.”
Currently, the American Red Cross has issued an emergency call for blood donors. “Right now, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of most blood types, and blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in. The Red Cross strives to keep a five-day supply on hand at all times to meet the needs of patients every day and be prepared for emergencies that would require significant volumes of donated blood products. A low blood supply may mean that critical medical treatments or emergency care may be delayed or canceled. Blood donations help ensure lifesaving patient care isn’t impacted this winter. Please consider making an appointment to give blood or platelets.” Franklin explains.
She continues, “All eligible blood donors are encouraged to give to help overcome a blood shortage. Donors with type O positive and O negative blood are especially needed. Type O positive is the most transfused blood type and can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type. Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations.”
Donating blood, platelets, or power red donations are easy. You will be provided with some educational reading and then answer a short questionnaire about your health. Once your blood pressure has been taken and your hemoglobin (iron) checked, you will be able to donate. Donating whole blood takes about eight to ten minutes on average, a Power Red donation (double red cell donation) generally takes around 40 minutes, and platelet donation generally takes around 2 hours. The platelet donation uses two needles and will collect a small amount of blood, remove the platelets, and return the rest of the blood through your other arm. Platelets are most often received by cancer patients, organ or bone transplants, and other traumatic injury victims and only have a five day shelf life. All of this adds up to needing a continuous supply of blood products.
The American Red Cross has a very convenient donor app available for download to your smart phone. It can schedule appointments, track your donations, and even complete a Rapid Pass in order to speed up your donation time. If you prefer to schedule with a person who can also answer any questions you may have, please call 1-800-REDCROSS (733-2767) or visit www.redcrossblood.com