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Red Cross gears up for fall blood drives

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The American Red Cross is preparing for a drop in blood donations during the holidays by offering several blood drive donation sites across Missouri in the next few weeks. In addition, those who give blood or platelets from Nov. 1-22 will receive a $10 e-gift card. 

In a recent news release, the Red Cross is urging blood donors of all types and those who have never given before to book a time to give blood or platelets. Donating blood or platelets will prevent the blood supply from dropping ahead of the holidays. 

“People of all blood types are needed, especially platelet donors and those with type O blood — these blood products are critical to keeping hospitals ready to help patients depending on transfusions in the weeks ahead,” the release states.  

Joe Zydlo, the regional communications manager for the American Red Cross of Missouri and Arkansas, spoke to the Democrat by phone from St. Louis on Monday, noting the Red Cross is between an urgent and critical need for blood statewide. He added Monday was a busy day in St. Louis. 

“We’ve had an incident happen at one of the schools today in south city, with an active shooter,” he added. “We’ve been working through some things there.” 

Zydlo added it’s essential to receive donations before the holidays because there is usually a decline.

“We always see a pretty sharp decline as we get closer to Thanksgiving and into December,” he explained. “With Christmas, Hanukkah, and the different holidays that people celebrate, in addition, school’s getting out for Christmas break. 

“It’s not something people think about doing,” he noted. “They don’t really think about donating blood. So, we’re trying to get the message out now.”

He added if people donate between now and mid-November, the next time they would be eligible to donate is in January. 

“It’s been a real roller coaster, odd time with COVID,” Zydlo said. “It really kind of changes things a little bit, in the sense of when we had emergency shortages. 

“We didn’t necessarily see anything (shortages) in the summer of 2020,” he continued. “Early 2021, we really didn’t see that; we didn’t see many shortages over the summer, people continued to donate.”

As people began to get out more last year, they became busy, and that’s when the real blood shortage occurred.

“It wasn’t really until the beginning of this year that we had a national shortage,” he noted. “It was critical — we are trying to avoid that. We don’t want to have another national shortage going into 2023. So that’s why we want to get this message out now.”

Not only does the Red Cross need blood donations, but it also needs platelets. 

“Platelets only have a five-day shelf life,” Zydlo explained. “So, they have to be used pretty quickly. And a lot of times, they are (used quickly). They help cancer patients in their treatments.

“Platelets are basically like a refuel for cancer patients going through radiation treatments,” he added. “Platelet recipients have told me it makes them feel whole again.”

Platelets are also used for people who are in vehicle accidents and for trauma patients and must be donated at an American Red Center, either in Columbia or Jefferson City.

Zydlo reiterated that the Red Cross would give a $10 e-gift card to those who come to donate between Nov. 1-22. Details are available at rcblood.org/perks

“What we ask people to do is when they donate blood, between the first and 22nd, to make sure they have all their information correct with the Red Cross,” he noted. “Specifically, an email.”

Donors will receive an email two to three weeks after their donation with a link to the e-gift card.

To book a donation, use the Red Cross Blood Donor App at RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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