It says blood donations drop off in the fall.
Frederick, Md (KM) The Red Cross is making an appeal for more blood donors. Blood donations tend to drop off during the fall, but the need is constant. “Because platelets only have a five-day shelf life, and whole blood only has a shelf life for just over 40 days, this is a need for us to make sure that we have full blood drives and people that are committed to an appointment keep that commitment,” says Curt Luthey, Executive Director of the Red Cross Chapter for Montgomery, Howard and Frederick Counties.
There is a lot going on during the fall, and Luthey says some regular donors get so busy with all the holidays and other activities that they forget to make time to give blood. “Thanksgiving, and the holiday season in December, we just see that peoples’ attention gets turned to other places. So statistically we do see a little bit of a drop around the holidays.”
The Red Cross says that’s usually when the need is greatest for blood.
Anyone who wants to give blood should be at least 16-years of age, be in good health and weigh at least 110 pounds. Individuals can donate whole blood every 56 days, or up to six times a year. Platelet donors must be at least 17-years of age, weigh 110 pounds and be in good health. They can donate platelets every seven days, up to 24 times per year.
Luthey says there was a decline in blood donations at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as many blood drives were canceled. High schools were closed due to the pandemic, and that meant students were unable to give blood. “We are starting to see some of our high schools start their blood drives again. So we’re very excited to see that opportunity open back up again,” he says.
With the COVID-19 virus still present, Luthey says Red Cross personnel take precautions when extracting blood from donors. “People are welcome to wear masks if that makes them feel comfortable,:” he says. “Our staff continues to wear masks and to take all the COVID protocol and precautions.”
Anyone who wants to donate blood or platelets can make an appointment by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, or go on line to redcrossblood.org. They can also use the Red Cross Blood Donor App. The Red Cross says O-positive and O-negative are in great demand, but any blood type, such as A, B and AB, are welcome.
Blood Need Following Hurricane Ian
Despite the destruction brought on by Hurricane Ian, Luthey says the Red Cross was able to get blood supplies to hospitals in Florida. He says the storm disrupted blood donations in the Sunshine State. “So we anticipate that there’s probably about a thousand units of blood that would be disrupted by Hurricane Ian. So the Red Cross works in partnership with other partners in Florida to make sure that the hospitals there certainly have the blood they need for their surgeries and their work,” says Luthey.
He says the Red Cross’ national network of blood donations, blood centers and blood processing sties was able to deliver several hundred units of blood to Florida from California, Texas, Maryland and other locations. He says the Red Cross tries to make sure the blood is present where it’s urgently needed.
By Kevin McManus