The CDC is predicting a severe flu season this year, already reporting an early spike in illnesses.

When seasonal illnesses increase, the number of healthy blood donors decreases, leaving the Red Cross blood supply vulnerable to a potential shortage over holidays.
Paired with busy holiday schedules, it’s even harder to collect the blood that hospitals require this winter.

So, Diane Concannon, communications manager at the American Red Cross New Jersey is asking healthy people to donate blood to those who desperately need it.
After receiving the flu shot, she said there is no waiting period to donate blood and platelets, as long as you’re feeling healthy.

What blood types are needed?

All blood types are desperately needed. Platelets and Type O blood are especially needed right now, she said. Those are critical in keeping hospitals ready to help patients depending on transfusions ahead of the holidays.

“Type O positive is the most transfused blood type and that can be transfused to RH-positive patients of any blood type. Type O negative is the most universal blood type--what emergency room personnel reach for every day,” Concannon said.

In the Greater Philadelphia area and all of New Jersey, hospitals need at least 600 units of blood on hand per day, she added.

How do people donate blood?

For those people who have never donated blood, Concannon said to visit A list of blood drives and blood donation sites are listed on this site.

There are also questions and answers there all about donating for the first time, what a donor should do, what a donor should do before giving blood, and how simple the process can be. Concannon said even more important, donors will read stories about the people they are helping.

Last month, Concannon said she met a 4-year-old cancer patient. A blood drive was being held in the little girl’s honor to celebrate her life. She needed multiple transfusions as she continues to fight this horrible disease.

“It’s thanks to donors who come and donate blood and platelets that are helping this young lady,” Concannon said.

Blood and platelet donors can shave about 15 minutes off their appointment time by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive, she said.

What are some incentives being offered?

As a thank you for donating blood, The American Red Cross is offering a few incentives. From now until Nov. 22, all who donate blood, platelets, and/or plasma, will receive a $10 e-gift card to a merchant of their choice.

Those who come to give over the Thanksgiving holiday, Nov. 23 through Nov. 27, will get a Red Cross knit beanie, while supplies last.

All who come out to help from Nov. 28 through Dec. 15 will receive a $10 Amazon gift card via email.

It’s a simple process that can help save a life.

“Your donation can mean so much to someone who needs it,” Concannon said.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at

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