Red Cross Makes Blood Donation Possible Even While on Vacation

Want to help save lives during a road trip with friends? Offer some assistance to others on a rainy afternoon while on a beach house getaway? Or even pitch in while visiting out-of-state family members? Now is your chance. Donating blood from anywhere in the country is possible thanks to the American Red Cross.

This summer, the Red Cross is facing a significant blood donation shortage, reporting 61,000 fewer donations than needed across all blood types. The demand for blood is far outpacing recent collection amounts because of a huge drop-off in new donors, a group mostly made up of high school and college students who are on summer break until classes resume in the fall. For regular Red Cross blood donors, vacation plans may prevent them from donating.

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“We have a huge unmet need,” said Alana Mauger, External Communications Manager for the Northeastern Pennsylvania and Penn-New Jersey Blood Services Region. While the number of donation appointments has increased since the call for donors began after Independence Day, Mauger said a big factor still effecting the nation’s blood supply is donors who haven’t followed through and arrived at their scheduled appointments. “You may take a vacation, but the need for blood doesn’t.”

New and returning donors who want to get involved can call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), visit redcrossblood.org or use the free Blood Donor App to learn more about blood donation eligibility and to sign up to give blood. The Blood Donor App allows donors, especially those who may be on vacation, to participate from anywhere in the U.S. by texting “BLOODAPP” to 90999. The Blood App enables donors to search zip codes for nearby donation centers, schedule appointments and complete a RapidPass online health history questionnaire to speed up the donation process. The Blood App even lets donors track where their own blood donation has gone, whether on a local or national level.

Mauger said one of the most common misconceptions about blood donation is the length of time it takes to donate from sign-in to recovery. It’s important for donors to know what blood donation options are available, and just how much time is involved for each type of donation, which include:

Whole Blood
Blood is donated and then manufactured into red blood cells, plasma and platelets.
Amount: Approximately a pint of blood
Appointment Length: About 1 hour from sign-in to recovery; 8-10 minutes for blood to be drawn and collected
Where to Donate: All Red Cross Blood Donation Centers and Blood Drives
Frequency: You are eligible to donate every 56 days

Power Red Donation
Red blood cells are the most transfused blood component and often in short supply. With a Power Red donation, red blood cells are collected while plasma and platelets are returned to the donor.
Amount: Approximately 2 units of red blood cells
Appointment Length: About 1.5 hours from sign-in to recovery, with 20-30 minutes for blood to be drawn and collected
Where to Donate: Most Red Cross Blood Donation Centers and some Blood Drives
Frequency: You are eligible to donate every 112 days

Platelet Apheresis
The Red Cross collects platelets along with some plasma by using an apheresis machine. Red and white blood cells are returned to the donor. Platelets and are important for cancer treatment, organ transplants, surgical procedures and blood loss.
Amount: One full transfusable unit
Appointment Length: About 2.5 to 3 hours from sign-in to recovery
Where to Donate: Select Red Cross Blood Donation Centers
Frequency: You are eligible to donate every 7 days, up to 24 times a year

Plasma Apheresis
The Red Cross collects plasma by an apheresis machine simultaneously with a platelet donation. Plasma is important for trauma or emergency situations, patients with bleeding disorders or difficulty fighting infections because of immune diseases.
Amount: One full transfusable unit
Appointment Length: About 1 hour, 15 minutes from sign-in to recovery
Where to Donate: Select Red Cross Blood Donation Centers
Frequency: You are eligible to donate every 28 days, up to 13 times a year

 

By Elizabeth McLaren

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