It’s officially spring and, as the weather warms up and the latest COVID-19 surge continues to slow, many people are looking forward to meeting up with family and friends. At the start of this new season, the American Red Cross encourages the community to play an important role in helping save lives by making blood or platelet donation part of their spring plans.
The Red Cross is grateful to the hundreds of thousands of individuals who have rolled up a sleeve to give in early 2022. It’s important to remember donated blood has a limited shelf life, so supplies must be constantly replenished. In the days and weeks ahead, it’s critically important to maintain a readily available blood supply. Donors can make an appointment by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
While getting back into the stands to watch the home team play ball this spring, donors can join a team of their own – Team Red Cross. As a thank-you, all who come to give April 1-18 will receive an exclusive Red Cross T-Shirt, while supplies last.
The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus after vaccination or past exposure, regardless of whether they developed symptoms.
Plasma from routine blood, platelet and plasma donations that have high levels of COVID-19 antibodies may be used as convalescent plasma to meet potential future needs of COVID-19 patients with weakened immune systems.
The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose infection, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who have been asked to quarantine or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation until they are symptom free for 10 days and feeling well and healthy.
At a time when health information has never been more important, the Red Cross is screening all blood, platelet and plasma donations from self-identified African American donors for the sickle cell trait. This additional screening will provide Black donors with an additional health insight and help the Red Cross identify compatible blood types more quickly to help patients with sickle cell disease. Blood transfusion is an essential treatment for those with sickle cell disease, and blood donations from individuals of the same race, ethnicity and blood type have a unique ability to help patients fighting sickle cell disease.
Donors can expect to receive antibody testing results and sickle cell trait screening results, if applicable, within one to two weeks through the Red Cross Blood Donor App and the online donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows high standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including face masks for donors and staff, regardless of vaccination status – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive.
Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass. With RapidPass, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.
To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission.