Donations decline during the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day when busy holiday schedules cause regular donors to be less available to give and many blood drives may be canceled due to severe winter storms. Last year, nearly 64,000 fewer blood and platelet donations were given through the Red Cross during the seven weeks from Thanksgiving through the first week of January than the average during the rest of the year.
“By taking just about an hour of time today, you can help save someone’s life within a few weeks or even days of your donation,” said Tiffany Taylor, external communications manager with the Red Cross Tennessee Valley blood services region. “We’re asking donors to give now to help ensure blood is available when patients need it most.”
Blood is perishable and can only be replenished by volunteer donors. Red blood cells, the most transfused blood product, must be transfused within 42 days. Platelets, the tiny cells that form clots and help stop bleeding, must be transfused within just five days. More than half of all platelet donations go to cancer patients who may need platelet transfusions to prevent life-threatening bleeding during chemotherapy.
“Platelet donors don’t have to wait a few weeks to make a difference in a patient’s life,” said Taylor. “Someone could donate platelets on Monday, and by Friday, those same platelets can help someone’s fight to kick cancer.”
Kelly Ellison knows that. Twenty-eight weeks into her third pregnancy, she was raced to the hospital with uncontrollable bleeding and received a doubly devastating diagnosis. Not only did she have aplastic anemia – a rare blood disorder in which the body’s bone marrow does not produce enough new blood cells – doctors also detected kidney cancer. Kelly received 43 units of blood and platelets. Five weeks later, she gave birth prematurely to her son, who also needed blood transfusions to survive.
“Our lives have been forever changed because of lifesaving blood and platelet donations,” said Ellison. “Every breath I take is a blessing.”
All blood types are needed this winter. Platelet donations are especially encouraged the first week of the New Year, which is among the most difficult to collect enough platelets to meet patient needs. Donation appointments may be quickly and easily scheduled by using the Red Cross blood donor app, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 800-RED CROSS.
As a special thank-you for taking the time to donate, those who come to give Dec. 21 through Jan. 7 will receive a long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.
Upcoming blood donation opportunities in Wilson County include:
• Dec. 22 from 1-6 p.m. at Quality Centers for Rehabilitation and Health at 932 E. Baddour Pkwy. in Lebanon.
• Dec. 29 from noon until 6 p.m. at the Mt. Juliet Community Center at 1075 Charlie Daniels Pkwy. in Mt. Juliet.
• Jan. 3 from noon until 4 p.m. at Keller Williams at 2033 N. Mt. Juliet Rd, Suite 100, in Mt. Juliet.
• Jan. 5 from noon until 5 p.m. at Active Life Chiropractic & Rehabilitation at 12920 Lebanon Road in Mt. Juliet.
• Jan. 14 from 12:30-5:30 p.m. at Round Lick Baptist Church at 745 W. Main St. in Watertown.
• Jan. 15 from noon until 4 p.m. in the Wilson County Veterans Building at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center at 945 E. Baddour Pkwy. in Lebanon.
To give blood, download the American Red Cross blood donor app, visit redcrossblood.org or call 800-RED CROSS to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years old, 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 old and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood and platelet donors may save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online on the day of their donation from a computer or mobile device. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, visit redcross.org.