We want to let you know that the American Red Cross has a critical need for African American blood donors to help patients, especially those battling sickle cell disease, following a significant decrease in diverse donors in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic environment.
Across the nation since mid-March, the number of African Americans donating blood with the Red Cross has dropped by more than half. This low donor turnout is largely due to blood drive cancellations at businesses, churches and schools and the disproportionate COVID-19 infection rates for African Americans compared to other ethnicities.
Despite the steep decline in blood donations, the need for blood products for patients with sickle cell disease has remained relatively steady.
So, we’re reaching out to partners, community influencers, organizations, and YOU! for support that could help raise awareness about the need for diverse blood donors, especially African American blood donors during this COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, we’re encouraging eligible donors from communities of color to keep their scheduled donation appointments and to look for open appointments at redcrossblood.org, especially in the weeks ahead as blood drives are added.
Thousands of blood drives canceled, resulting in tens of thousands of uncollected blood donations during Coronavirus Pandemic
The American Red Cross is working to continue delivering our mission, including the collection of lifesaving blood, but we have had a staggering number of scheduled Red Cross blood drives canceled as more workplaces, college campuses and other venues send people home and encourage social distancing. Disruptions to blood donations can lead to shortages and cause delays in essential medical care.
As of March 26, about 9,000 blood drives, representing more than 300,000 fewer blood donations, have been canceled in the U.S. due to COVID-19 concerns. In our Minnesota and Dakotas blood services region, cancellations include 311 blood drives, resulting in more than 10,360 uncollected donations. As the number of COVID-19 cases grow in our region, we expect that number to increase unfortunately.
Those who are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give blood or platelets, are urged to make an appointment to donate as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App,
As concerns about the coronavirus pandemic rise, please know:
• Donating blood is a safe process and people should not be concerned about giving or receiving blood during this challenging time.
• More healthy donors are needed to give now to prevent a blood shortage.
• Keep scheduled blood drives, which will allow donors the opportunity to give blood.
As an emergency preparedness organization, the Red Cross has also taken additional steps to ensure the safety of staff and donors at each Red Cross blood drive.
• The Red Cross only collects blood from individuals who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation – and who meet other eligibility requirements, available at RedCrossBlood.org.
• We are now pre-screening all individuals by checking their temperature before they enter any Red Cross blood drive or donation center, including our own staff and volunteers.
• At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees follow thorough safety protocols including wearing gloves, routinely wiping down donor-touched areas, using sterile collection sets for every donation, and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.
• Additional spacing has been implemented within each blood drive set up to incorporate social distancing measures between donation beds and stations within the blood drive.
• The average blood drives are only 20-30 people and are not large gatherings.
These mitigation measures will help to keep blood recipients, staff and donors safe.
Thank you for being lifesavers for patients in need in Minnesota and across the country!
It nearly goes without saying that the reason to donate blood during the 12 Hours Giving Blood Drive on December 19 is that your donation could help save up to three lives this winter. But since this is the festive season, we’ve added some sparkles to our list of reasons for you to donate the gift of life at this holiday drive.
1. Free gift wrapping! Bring gifts that still need to be wrapped and we’ll wrap them for you.
2. Hourly prize drawings! Prizes include but are not limited to a television, gift cards, and small appliances.
3. Free food and refreshments! Scrumptious food, cookies, and drinks will be provided.
4. Convenient location! Finish up last minute holiday shopping at the nearby the outlet mall.
5. Help save lives! Our goal is 500 units of blood for patients in need. Each unit could save up to three lives.
6. Photo opportunities! Festive photos with Santa or Buddy the Blood Drop. Post on social media with hashtag #MNRedCross.
7. Easy sign-up! Book your appointment online at RedCrossBlood.org or on the Blood Donor App. Sponsor code: 12 Hours
8. Share Your Story Tree! Share a story about donating or receiving blood products to hang on our Giving Tree.
9. Live Music! Instrumental and vocal groups will perform throughout the day.
10. Family tradition! Donors return to this annual event year after year with their families to help save lives together.
11. Face art! Get a festive-themed face painting (hours: 2 to 7 p.m.).
12. New Year’s resolution! Kick-off the New Year now by becoming a regular blood donor or a Red Cross volunteer supporting blood donation.
Join us in Oakdale on Dec. 19. Schedule your appointment here.
Every day a Red Cross blood donation bus will be at the “Great Minnesota Get-Together”
Our blood drive at the Minnesota State Fair comes as we continue to experience a blood emergency. Blood products are being distributed to hospitals as fast as donations are coming in to help patients in need of lifesaving treatments.
Help by donating during our daily blood drive at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Find us Aug. 22 – Sept. 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. just outside the Agriculture Horticulture Building, west of the Space Tower (see map below).
Click here to schedule your donation appointment on your day at the fair.
Donors of all blood types, especially type O, are needed to help replenish the blood supply as the Red Cross faces an emergency need right now. Blood from generous volunteer donors helps families like the Jolliffes.
In February 2018, Meghan Jolliffe suffered an amniotic fluid embolism. During childbirth her heart stopped beating for 14 minutes resulting in the need for an emergency cesarean section. Her organs began to shut down, and her blood would not clot.
Meghan received nearly 100 units of blood within a seven-hour period during her procedures. The doctors were able to stop the bleeding and stabilize Meghan’s condition. Over the next several days, Meghan underwent five surgeries, dialysis and more to repair the damage to her body.
After her son Sullivan was delivered, he went without oxygen for seven minutes. Doctors performed a process called therapeutic hypothermia, or whole-body cooling, to preserve his neuro function, and he also received several units of blood.
In all, Meghan and Sullivan received 109 units of blood.
“My family and I are forever grateful for the generosity of Red Cross volunteer blood donors,” says Meghan. “Donating blood is so important. You or a loved one may never need these lifesaving products, but I can assure you that someone, somewhere will.”
Please don’t wait to donate. You can make an appointment now to give blood or platelets by downloading our free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Do you know that only 3 out of 100 Americans donate blood each year, but every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood? Here’s another surprise: blood donation can be super easy. Once you’re seated comfortably, the actual donation time takes only 8 to 10 minutes. To help bring more ease for new and continuing donors, below are six things we’d like you to know before donating blood.
You do not need to know your blood type. A national survey conducted earlier this year for the Red Cross revealed that54%of people believe they need to know their blood type to donate blood. Find more eye-popping results here.
You should be well-hydrated. Blood has a lot of water. To promote a good flow during donation and to prevent dizziness during or after, we recommend drinking an extra16 oz.of liquid before donating. Hydrate after, too. Check out our fave water bottle that will help keep you hydrated on the go.
You should eat a healthy meal rich iniron and vitamin Cwhile avoiding high-fat foods just prior to donation. Your body needs iron to make new blood cells, replacing the ones lost through blood donations. Vitamin C promotes iron absorption. Find a list of iron rich foods here. Yum!
You should wearcozy clothes. Whatever’s on top should be loose and comfortable with short sleeves or sleeves that can be easily rolled up above the elbow during your donation. Find our classic T-shirt here in many colors.
You can speed up your appointment time. Complete aRapidPass® on the day of your donation, prior to arriving, and you’ll save time completing your health history that’s required before your donation can begin. Click here for more.
You should remember to bring apicture ID. Your ID can be one primary ID, such your Red Cross blood donor card or state driver’s license; or two other forms of secondary ID. Click here to check for acceptable forms of ID.
Now that you’re feeling more confident about blood donation, click here to schedule an appointment near you. Need more tips? Watch this video of some pro blood donors. They make it look easy, because it is. Thanks!
From serving meals to disaster victims to briefing soldiers before deployments, Red Cross volunteers contribute throughout our communities in many ways. Flora Holmberg serves in another important role: Blood Donor Ambassador at blood drives and fixed donation centers.
What do you do as a Red Cross volunteer? I work as a Donor Ambassador in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Stillwater areas. I greet people who are coming to donate, thank them for coming in, and register them for their donation appointment.
What’s your favorite part or memory of volunteering? I enjoy meeting and visiting with all the great people who come in to donate.
Would you recommend volunteering with the Red Cross to others? Yes! Very much so!! It’s a great organization to volunteer for – it gives you such a great feeling to know that you are a part of something that helps so many people.
How does it feel to help save a life? Watch this video:
We’re always looking for volunteers to help their neighbors in need after disasters like home fires. To volunteer or for more information, click here. Or join us during upcoming 30-minute “Call to Serve” conferences calls:
You may be surprised to learn that you can play a direct role in helping patients kick cancer simply by donating platelets through the Red Cross.
Take someone like 5-year-old Emery, who was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia last spring. During her intense cancer treatments, Emery has needed both blood and platelets.
“Emery would not be able to recover from chemotherapy without lifesaving transfusions,” says her mom, Morgan. “Every time they hang a bag of platelets or blood up on her IV pole, I wish whoever donated that could see who it’s going to. There would be no chance for her to live, taking that chemotherapy, if it weren’t for the blood products.”
Cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma, and certain types of chemotherapy drugs and radiation, can damage the bone marrow where red blood cells and platelets are produced. Platelet transfusions may be needed to prevent life-threatening bleeding and help cancer patients continue receiving lifesaving treatments. More than half of all platelet donations are given to cancer patients.
Platelets are tiny cells that form clots and stop bleeding. About 2 million units of platelets are transfused each year in the U.S., and more than half of all donated platelets go to cancer patients. While cancer patients undergo treatment, a major side effect is low platelet counts. Without a platelet transfusion, cancer patients face life-threatening bleeding since platelets help blood to clot.
The Red Cross needs your help to keep up with hospital demand for platelets. Because platelets must be transfused within five days of the time they are donated, there is a constant, often critical need for new and current donors to give.
This is where you come in. You can help the fight against cancer in the following ways:
Invite family and friends to donate platelets or blood too. All blood types, except types O negative and B negative, are encouraged to give platelet donation a try. Type O negative and B negative donors are encouraged to give whole blood or a Power Red donation, where available.
Did you or a family member receive platelets or blood? Let us know. Please contact Sue Thesenga at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-895-7542 so we can consider sharing it for inspiring others to donate.
That’s a spot-on adage when we consider fulfilling our Red Cross mission to alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.
For example, one hundred years ago Junior Red Cross volunteers in Duluth made care packages for World War I veterans overseas.
This year our Service to the Armed Forces volunteers will distribute donated socks to veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
There are more examples and yet, whatever the year of the new year, the basics of life remain the same.
People need shelter, food and clothing. People need blood and blood products. People need to reach loved ones during emergencies.
The Red Cross helps meet these and other basic needs within the context of being impartial and neutral, of empowering volunteer service, and keeping an eye on preserving and promoting human dignity in all of our work.
With those thoughts in mind, this year we encourage you to look to the stars while keeping your feet on the ground. Make a regular commitment to:
The arrival of the holiday season often means spending time and exchanging gifts with family and friends. But what if the gift you needed couldn’t be bought? For patients like Mike McMahon, the generosity of blood donations was the perfect gift and didn’t cost anything other than a bit of someone’s time.
Following a tragic tree felling accident on Nov. 10, 2016, McMahon, a Stillwater, Minnesota resident, suffered life-threatening injuries. He needed 11 units of blood during emergency surgery to keep him alive.
He spent the next six weeks in the intensive care unit and inpatient rehab, including three weeks during which he had to be intubated as he was unable to breathe on his own.
During his hospital stay, he also experienced an ulcer on a major artery in his intestines. The ulcer was so severe that he needed an additional seven units of blood and the artery was coiled to stop the hemorrhaging.
“I remember clearly as my nurse hooked me up to the first bag of blood,” said McMahon. “The thought of blood passing through another person’s heart and now into me, to keep me alive, was very emotional. From the first pint to the last, each one was equally moving.”
McMahon was told that he might not be able to do a lot of things ever again – his future was uncertain. However, just a few days before Christmas he was released from the hospital.
McMahon is thankful for blood donors and credits blood donation with helping save his life. “I’m grateful for the donors who gave me such an amazing gift – to spend Christmas and more holidays with my family. I was an occasional blood donor before the accident – today I donate as often as I can to help ensure others receive the same gift of life.”
You can give patients like McMahon more time and memories this holiday season by donating blood at the American Red Cross 6th annual 12 Hours of Giving Blood Drive at Inwood Oaks in Oakdale, Minnesota. As a special thanks, all who come to give will be treated to free parking, complimentary gift wrapping, a special gift bag, a long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirt, and holiday food and entertainment and will be automatically entered into hourly prize drawings including grand prizes – a large flat panel TV and a HP laptop computer.
To make an appointment to give blood at the 12 Hours of Giving Blood Drive, donors can click here or use sponsor code 12 hours on the Red Cross Blood Donor App, online at redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
We hope to see you at the 12 Hours of Giving Blood Drive. Happy holidays from your friends at the Red Cross!
Story and photo by Sue Thesenga/American Red Cross