WASHINGTON, July 11, 2011 — The American Red Cross today issued an appeal for blood donors to roll up a sleeve and address a critical shortage across the nation.
Many donors are busy or traveling, school is out of session and donations have dropped dramatically. In May and June, while demand for blood products remained steady, donations were at the lowest level the Red Cross has seen during this timeframe in over a dozen years. Because of that, the Red Cross needs blood donors now more than ever. All types are needed, but especially O negative, which can be used to treat any patient.
The Red Cross has responded to more than 40 major disasters across more than 30 states over the past three months.
“This has been an especially busy year for the Red Cross, as we’ve given help and hope to people affected by deadly tornadoes, floods, wildfires and other storms,” said Shaun Gilmore, President, Red Cross Biomedical Services. “But there’s another, more personal, kind of disaster that can happen to any of us at any time if we need blood and it’s not available.”
The Red Cross is reaching out to eligible blood donors, sponsors and community leaders to ask them to recruit people to help meet the needs of patients in communities across the United States.
“As a meteorologist, I know that there is a chance of tornado, flood, fire, earthquake or hurricane somewhere in our country almost every day,” said Jim Cantore, Meteorologist and member of the Red Cross National Celebrity Cabinet. “Any one of these natural disasters can bring pain and heartbreak to those affected. Similarly, a critical blood shortage like the one we’re experiencing right now could have the same effect on someone in need.”
Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion — someone like Brian Boyle, a 25-year-old whose life changed instantly when a dump truck plowed into his vehicle on his way home from swim practice in 2004. Brian lost 60% of his blood, his heart had moved across his chest and his organs and pelvis were pulverized. If Brian survived, doctors predicted that he might not be able to walk again and certainly would not swim. Against all predictions, Brian now competes in marathons and triathlons.
“When I needed it, the American Red Cross was there with 36 blood transfusions and 13 plasma treatments that saved my life in a situation where time was of the essence,” said Boyle. “Amazing medical care and volunteer blood donors helped make my recovery possible. By giving just a little bit of their time, blood donors helped give me the chance at a lifetime.”
Brian’s story emphasizes just how important each and every blood donation can be. In fact, the Red Cross provides lifesaving blood to nearly 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. Accident victims, as well as patients with cancer, sickle cell disease, blood disorders and other illnesses receive lifesaving transfusions every day. There is no substitute for blood and volunteer donors are the only source.
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to give blood. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.
Eligible blood donors are asked to please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive and to make an appointment.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.