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Blood Services

Written by Sam Antenucci

My father is a universal donor, meaning he can donate his blood to anyone who needs it. He donated as frequently as he could, often donating plasma as well. He did this for years, up until he was diagnosed with cancer.

Knowing that blood can help burn-victims, transplant patients, those battling cancer etc., made me want to step up and take my father’s place on the donation table. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, making donations not just important but the difference between life and death.

Blood Drive at the Rayburn House Building Capitol Hill 2017

My first donation was in September of 2014 and I had some concerns going into my first blood drive. Like many other first-time donors, I didn’t like needles. I walked into a room bustling with nurses, donors and soft rock playing in the background. I was greeted by the warm faces of volunteers at the registration table and led to the back for a mini-physical where I answered a few general health questions and had my vitals taken. Once the physical was finished, I was on track to donate.

I laid down on the table as the nurse and I chatted away about being a first-time donor. She explained everything and tried to ease my fear of needles, reminding me that each donation goes to those in need. Before I knew it, the needle was in with a slight pinch and I was only ten minutes away from filling my first pint of blood! Between the music and the friendly staff, time zipped by and I was able to hop off the table and enjoy the refreshments waiting for donors afterwards. From there, my blood was sent to the blood donation center in Philadelphia for processing and testing.

Four years later, I’m still donating to this day, especially since blood supplies have been noticeably low during the summer months. To make matters worse, the number of Red Cross donors decreased each year, leaving many hospital’s supplies low, shelves empty and patients in dire need of transfusions. Now is better than ever to make the decision to save lives by donating blood.

3 livesBy taking 15 minutes out of your day to donate blood, you can save three lives and give patients a chance to keep fighting. You don’t need a special reason to give blood, just one that motivates you. Some donate because of friends, some do it because they believe it is the right thing to do, and there are some who do it for the free cookies. Regardless of the reason to give blood, I would like to offer advice for new-donor jitters – take pride in the good you are doing, relax with music or chat with the staff, and be prepared before you donate by eating a good meal with plenty of water. It is a rewarding experience that changes the lives of those in need.

 

To find more information on where you can donate, you can go to https://rdcrss.org/2ORL31P to find a blood drive near you.

Written by Sam Antenucci

We underestimate the importance of the letters A, B, and O. When these letters are missing from a sentence, it ceases to make sense. Likewise, these letters hold the utmost importance in our hospitals. Representing the main blood type groups, they can mean the difference between life or death. Unfortunately, hospitals nationwide have been going through extreme shortages in our blood supplies and have reached dangerously low levels.

Missing Type

In response to the shortages, The Red Cross is kicking off The Missing Types Campaign to address and bring awareness to the shortages during the summer months. Since 2013, there has been a decreasing number of Red Cross donors, declining by 80,000 people each year. To make matters worse, every two seconds, someone in the U. S. needs a blood transfusion. This disproportion in donors and the high demand of blood has left many hospital’s supplies low and shelves empty.

blood donors

U.S. Health officials state that over 13 million units of blood are needed yearly to keep up with the demand for patients in need. Though the Red Cross provides 40% of that blood, only 3% of the population donates annually. The frightening reality of going to the hospital and needing a blood transfusion, only to find your type is no longer available, is one many patients will soon have to face.

Without the generosity of blood donors, patients with various cancers, traumas, and chronic diseases might not be able to get the blood that they desperately need to stay alive and healthy. Fortunately, this was not the case for a brave 2-year-old, Lindsey Crowder. At the time of her lymphoblastic leukemia diagnosis, Lindsey and her family went through a two-year chemotherapy regiment that put her into remission. However, once Lindsey turned six, she relapsed and had to rely on over 100 different blood transfusions to keep her healthy and give her another chance to recover. Lindsey’s mother, Lisa recalled, “Without the generous donors, I don’t know where we would be. Which is why we are now donors.”

Normally, you might not realize the importance of the letters A, B, and O, until they are gone. Likewise, these letters are vanishing from our hospitals shelves, leaving many critical patients without the blood they desperately need. You are the missing type, and by donating this summer season, you can save three lives with your life saving donation. You can give life to more patients like Lindsey by signing up for a blood drive near you on the Red Cross’s website: http://www.redcrossblood.org/give. You can also read more stories like Lindsey’s and see how your donation will make a difference to those in need, here at https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/how-to-donate/how-blood-donations-help.html.

Tracey Howard joined the American Red Cross Team after retiring from 24 years in law enforcement as a federal probation officer for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, U.S. District Courts.  Tracey is a firm believer in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, “Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.”

Tracey Photo 2

Her commitment to community service has given her the opportunity to work with agencies including BEBASHI, Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s Youth Aid Panel, Mayor’s Commission on Literacy, the Girls Scouts, and AARP.  In addition to serving at the American Red Cross in various capacities (humanitarian, warehouse assistant, blood donor ambassador, …. she has served over 26 years on the Multi-Media Ministry for New Covenant Church and is the current President for Valley Forge Alumnae Chapter (VFAC) of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.  She is most proud to have initiated partnership with VFAC and the American Red Cross, participating in the Sound the Alarm Program., Emergency Preparedness Workshops, Hurricane Harvey Relief, the Pillowcase Project, and blood drives for VFAC service area.

Last year, the Red Cross in Eastern Pennsylvania collected more than 155,000 blood donations. Through voluntary donations, the American Red Cross Biomedical Services fulfills the needs of the American people for the safest, most reliable and cost-effective blood services.