Red Cross recruits blood donors to meet ‘constant’ need

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With the winter holidays in full swing, American Red Cross officials are urging people to donate blood when possible.

“Many of us celebrate this time of year with loved ones, but patients may spend the holidays and ring in the new year from a hospital room,” stated Nick Gehrig, communications director for Red Cross Blood Services, in a news release. “Blood and platelet donors can bring joy to patients and their families by giving blood or platelets to help ensure patients receive the lifesaving treatments they need.”

Generally, most individuals 17 and older — 16 with parental consent — who weigh at least 110 pounds, can donate blood every 56 days.

“The American Red Cross has a critical need for blood and platelet donations now and throughout the holiday season,” said Kristen Stancil, external communications manager for American Red Cross. “... Severe winter weather has forced the cancellation of over 85 blood drives, resulting in more than 2,800 uncollected blood and platelet donations so far. Approximately every two seconds, a patient in the United States needs a blood transfusion. On average, the Red Cross must collect 14,000 blood donations every day for patients in about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country.

“The need for blood is constant and volunteers are the only source. Blood and platelets are needed for many different reasons. Accident and burn victims, heart surgery patients, organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease may all need blood. Although an estimated 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood at any given time, less than 10 percent of that eligible population actually does each year.”

In Cartersville, there are three upcoming blood drives: Cartersville Civic Center, 435 W. Main St., Dec. 27 from noon to 5:30 p.m.; Wal-Mart, 101 Market Blvd., Jan. 6 from noon to 5 p.m.; and First Presbyterian Church, 183 W. Main St., Jan. 11 from 3 to 8 p.m. Individuals who donate blood through Jan. 8 will receive a Red Cross long-sleeved T-shirt, while supplies last. The Cartersville Civic Center drive also will provide coupons from Cheeseburger Bobby’s and Chick-fil-A.

“With many regular donors traveling or busy for the holidays, new and repeat donors are needed to give the perfect gift of a blood or platelet donation,” Stancil said. “Eligible donors are urged to make an appointment to donate by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

“Blood and platelet donors can save time when they donate during the busy holiday season by completing a RapidPass. With RapidPass, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive.

To complete a RapidPass, follow the instructions at redcrossblood.org/RapidPass.”