A year ago, many things in the world paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the need for blood never stopped. Today blood donations are just as essential, and the American Red Cross urges individuals who are healthy to make an appointment to donate blood.
For patients in the emergency room, fighting cancer or coping with a life-threatening illness, help can’t wait. Their health is reliant on the selfless generosity of blood donors. However, the blood supply continues to face challenges from the ongoing pandemic and extreme winter weather that impacted much of the U.S. last month.
More donors, especially those with type O blood, are needed now to ensure that patients have lifesaving blood products available for emergencies and everyday medical treatments. Schedule a blood donation appointment by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.
March is Red Cross Month, and the Red Cross is celebrating blood, platelet and plasma donors for stepping up to meet the constant need for blood amid the pandemic. In thanks for being a vital part of the organization’s lifesaving mission, all who come to give March 15-26 will receive an exclusive Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.
The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether an individual developed COVID-19 symptoms. Testing may also identify the presence of antibodies developed after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus. Plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for high levels of COVID-19 antibodies may be used to help COVID-19 patients.
COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within one to two weeks in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity. The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.
American Red Cross blood drives coming up this month in Mower County include a drive in Brownsdale at Our Savior Lutheran Church from 1-7 p.m. on March 18th, also in Austin at Riverland Community College on March 22nd from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and in Adams at the American Legion on March 31st from noon to 6 p.m.