American Red Cross encourages donations

By Darla Slipke

Staff Writer

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American Red Cross officials are encouraging people to roll up their sleeves and give blood this summer during what typically is a slower time for blood donations.

The Red Cross recently launched a blood donation campaign that runs through Sept. 1 called “100 Days of Summer. 100 Days of Hope.”

Summer is an extremely difficult time for blood collections, said Kristen Hatfield, communications program manager for the American Red Cross Mid-Atlantic Blood Services Region. Vacations, summer activities and other factors often result in a decline in blood donations, Red Cross officials said.

During the months of June, July and August, on average about two fewer donors give blood at each Red Cross blood drive than what hospital patients need, Hatfield said. As part of the “100 Days of Summer. 100 Days of Hope” campaign, Red Cross officials are encouraging at least two more donors to give blood at each Red Cross blood drive this summer, above what is expected.

“Patients don’t get a summer holiday or a vacation from needing blood and platelets,” Hatfield said. “That need is constant.”

Blood and platelets are needed for patients with many different medical conditions, Hatfield said. People who donate blood are helping to save lives, she said.

“You don’t know if you’re going to help a premature infant, someone battling cancer or leukemia, someone suffering from sickle cell anemia, someone having a routine surgery, someone having a baby ... ” Hatfield said. “It’s such an important thing to do.”

Donated blood is perishable, so it constantly must be replenished. Red blood cells have a shelf life of 42 days, and platelets only have a shelf life of five days, Hatfield said. She said there is no substitute for human blood.

Blood donors are heroes, Hatfield said. She encouraged people to donate blood in June and come back in August when they are eligible to donate blood again.

“Donating is quick and easy, and like all good things this time of year, it’s worth celebrating,” Hatfield said.

People can call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org for more information, to find a blood drive near them or to make an appointment.

The American Red Cross collects platelet donations in Greenville, Hatfield said. She said it takes about two hours to donate platelets, and the Red Cross provides leather chairs, blankets and current movies for people to watch.