American Red Cross NJ needs blood ahead of summer months
Summer has always been a challenge for blood donations because schools are closed so they can't hold drives and people are on vacation, unavailable to donate. So, it's critically important for donors to make appointments now to help maintain a stable blood supply.
"Sadly, the need for life-saving blood transfusions never takes a break. So, it's important for us to have blood ready to go when every second counts," said Diane Concannon, communications director at The American Red Cross New Jersey.
She said there is no substitution for blood and there is no way to manufacture it. Volunteer donors are the only sources of blood products for patients with cancer, sickle cell disease, car accident victims, or even parents experiencing difficult childbirths.
Blood drives are always welcome, said Concannon. The American Red Cross continues to follow all high standards of safety and infection control, as it did before the COVID-19 pandemic. They will continue to socially distance themselves at drives whenever possible.
Staff and donors are not required to wear masks but whoever wants to, may choose to do so.
The Red Cross is testing all donations for COVID-19 antibodies for a limited time. Results may indicate if the donor's immune system has produced antibodies to COVID after vaccination or past exposure, regardless of whether they have developed symptoms.
Plasma from routine blood, platelet, and plasma donations that have a high level of COVID antibodies may be used as convalescent plasma to meet any potential future needs of COVID patients.
Concannon said that across New Jersey and in the Greater Philadelphia region, The American Red Cross needs to collect at least 600 units of blood per day. That's based on the demand from the hospitals.
"The need is constant," she said.
All blood types are needed especially O+ and O-. Type AB plasma and platelet donors are especially needed right now, as well.
To help with the summer blood donation shortage, some incentives are being offered. Concannon said The American Red Cross has partnered with Suburban Propane to offer blood donors a $10 e-gift card to a merchant of choice from now until May 19.
All who donate will also be entered to win a travel trailer camper that sleeps eight.
Those who donate between May 20 and 31, will receive an exclusive 20-ounce Red Cross aluminum water bottle and customizable sticker set, while supplies last.
"May is also Trauma Awareness Month. We need to have blood already on the shelves that can help save lives during emergencies," Concannon said.
Donors can help save a life in just one hour. To schedule an appointment to donate blood, platelets, and plasma or to find the nearest blood drive, visit www.redcrossblood.org or download the Red Cross donor app.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at email@example.com
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