WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- When temperatures drop, many regular activities come to a halt, but the American Red Cross needs your help to stop winter weather from giving hospital patients the cold shoulder. Those who are eligible to donate are urged to cozy up to giving blood, platelets or plasma to help hospital patients this February and throughout the pandemic.
As the Red Cross works to provide lifesaving blood products to hospitals for patients every day of the year, weather adds additional complications during this ongoing pandemic. Over the past seven days, blood drives from coast-to-coast have been canceled due to severe winter weather, especially in the Northeast—impacting at least 4,600 donations that patients need to help them combat injury and illness, including COVID-19.
Just as road crews, snowplows and salt trucks are essential in preparing for and responding to severe winter weather, so are blood donations. All those who come to donate blood, platelets or plasma with the Red Cross this February will receive a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card via email.*
Individuals can schedule an appointment to give blood today with the American Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS oractivating the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.
Inspiring Lifesaving Action This gift card promotion is made possible by a generous $1 million donation from Amazon, and the Red Cross hopes it will motivate donors to roll up a sleeve to ensure patients continue to have access to lifesaving blood products. During this pandemic, the Red Cross has been fortunate to witness the best of humanity and grateful to partners like Amazon who have stepped up to help. Amazon's generous donation will specifically help support the Red Cross efforts to collect a sufficient amount of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients as well as support the needs of sickle cell patients, a disease which disproportionately impacts people of African descent, by helping to engage the Black community on the importance of giving blood and hosting blood drives. In addition to Amazon's financial gift, Amazon has opened up their corporate and operations buildings to host blood drives nationwide. In 2020, Amazon has hosted 65 blood drives, collecting nearly 2,000 donations to help save thousands of lives.
"Amazon is a longtime partner with the Red Cross—last year we provided $1 million in gift cards to support donor drives during a critical blood shortage," said Bettina Stix, Director, Right Now Needs and Disaster Relief at Amazon. "We are proud to team up again to help the Red Cross carry out its mission during these uncertain times. Donating blood is critical to ensuring a stable blood supply and we hope our gift gives further reason to roll up a sleeve to make a difference to patients—including those suffering from COVID-19."
Winter weather can create a negative impact on blood donations, but it's hard to predict when that weather may hit.
"It's the blood that's already on the shelf that helps patients in need," said Paul Sullivan, senior vice president of Donor Services at the Red Cross. "That's why it's important for people to donate regularly, so we are prepared for when severe weather does arrive. That is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic when we are also struggling with other challenges. We are grateful to Amazon for their support and grateful to our volunteer donors who give during this time."
Because the Red Cross maintains a national inventory of donated blood, people in areas unaffected by winter weather can be essential to ensuring that patients receive the lifesaving treatment they need by donating blood. The Red Cross is able to move blood to weather impacted areas, so donations in all communities can make a difference in thawing a freeze on the blood supply.
Important COVID-19 information for donors
VACCINES: As of February 1, 2021, there is no wait period to donate after receiving COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by AstraZeneca, Janssen/J&J, Moderna, Novavax or Pfizer, as long as individuals are feeling healthy and well. Individuals who receive a COVID-19 vaccine and do not know which manufacturer it was from will need to wait two weeks to donate. Individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine are not able to donate convalescent plasma with the Red Cross at this time.
CONVALESCENT PLASMA: As COVID-19 cases have risen across the U.S., so has the need for convalescent plasma – leading to a shortage of this potentially lifesaving blood product. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 may have antibodies in their plasma that could provide a patient's immune system the boost it needs to beat the virus. There are two ways COVID-19 survivors can help – through a convalescent plasma donation or by simply giving whole blood. Plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may be used to help COVID-19 patients.
ANTIBODY TESTING: 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. 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.
BLOOD DRIVE SAFETY: 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.
About blood donation 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 of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), 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 of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood and platelet donors can 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, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.
About the American Red Cross The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% 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 not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.