The American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society have teamed up to encourage people to Give Blood to Give Time and help loved ones have support during cancer treatment.
According to the American Cancer Society, many procedures were forced to delay or cancel early in the pandemic to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. With procedures resuming, blood donations are critical for cancer treatments.
Unfortunately, the Red Cross is seeing fewer blood and platelet donors give as the nation begins to climb out of this pandemic. This downturn comes as the Red Cross sees strong demand for blood products — including platelets — by hospitals, causing concern for the sufficiency of the blood supply throughout the summer.
Platelets, the clotting portion of blood primarily given to cancer patients during treatment, must be transfused within five days of donation and, therefore, are always in great demand.
Some types of chemotherapy can damage bone marrow, reducing red blood cell and platelet production. Other times, the cancer itself or surgical procedures cause the need for blood products. About six blood products are needed every minute to help someone going through cancer treatment. Yet only 3% of people in the U.S. give blood.
The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies through July 24. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether they developed symptoms. Testing may identify the presence of antibodies developed after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health of Red Cross staff and donors, individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 are asked to postpone donation.
The Red Cross is screening all blood, platelet and plasma donations from self-identified African American donors for the sickle cell trait, to help identify compatible blood types more quickly for people with sickle cell disease. Blood transfusion is an essential treatment for those with sickle cell disease, and blood donations from individuals of the same race, ethnicity and blood type have a unique ability to help.
Donors can expect to receive antibody test and sickle cell trait screening results, if applicable, within one to two weeks through the Red Cross Blood Donor App and the online donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.
Fully vaccinated individuals, including staff and donors, no longer need to wear masks or socially distance. Unvaccinated individuals are required to wear masks and socially distance.
Donors are asked to schedule an appointment. You can do so via the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, which can be downloaded from RedCrossBlood.org; or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) .
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.