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Winter and Disaster Prep

Make Saving Lives Your New Year’s Resolution by Giving Blood This January

Photo: Courtesy of LuAnn Hunt

Paul Sullivan

Senior Vice President, American Red Cross

To ensure patients have uninterrupted access to lifesaving blood products, the American Red Cross is asking eligible individuals to resolve to make a difference in the lives of patients in need by donating blood, platelets, or plasma in the New Year.

January is National Blood Donor Month and it’s also a month that brings on winter weather and seasonal illnesses that greatly threaten the nation’s blood supply. Add a global pandemic to the mix, and there is real urgency to make sure in January 2021 we all commit to donating blood and ensuring patients will get the blood they need. Giving blood is a simple but profoundly important act.

The impact of the coronavirus

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, so does the need for convalescent plasma. If you have recovered from COVID-19, your blood could be your superpower to help others with coronavirus. COVID-19 survivors carry antibodies to the virus in their blood, which could help those who are seriously ill fight the virus. Increased hospitalization of patients with coronavirus this winter has caused the Red Cross to distribute a record number of COVID-19 plasma products to hospitals. We are testing all donors for COVID-19 antibodies, so by donating blood you can find out your own antibody status and if you can help COVID-19 patients with your plasma.

The Red Cross is collecting convalescent plasma at more than 170 locations throughout the country. If you have recovered from COVID-19, especially those with AB and B blood types, and are eligible to give, please make an appointment to donate convalescent plasma. Type AB plasma is the only universal plasma type and can be given to patients of any blood type.

A consistent demand

The need for blood is constant — even during a pandemic. In the time it takes to read this sentence, on average six more people will have needed a blood transfusion. Donated blood helps medical professionals respond to patient emergencies of all kinds. Your blood could help a teen who was in an accident, a grandfather who needs heart surgery, a best friend being treated for cancer, a sister undergoing an organ transplant, or a child with sickle cell disease.

Each day, the Red Cross must collect nearly 13,000 blood donations for patients at about 2,500 hospitals nationwide. The need is great, but it only takes one blood donor to help save a life, which in turn will touch countless lives.

Blood donation is an essential service, and the well-being of all individuals at Red Cross blood drives and donation centers is the top priority of our organization. To ensure the health of staff and donors, we have implemented additional precautions including temperature checks for both staff and donors prior to entering a blood drive or donation center; face masks required for everyone; available hand sanitizer throughout the donation process; and social distancing wherever possible.

Another way to help

Blood drive hosts also play a critical role in maintaining a sufficient blood supply as they provide opportunities for people to give in their local community. The Red Cross is always looking for blood drive hosts, but the need for hosts is even greater now due to the pandemic. COVID-19 has caused many places to not be able to host blood drives, leading to significantly fewer drives than needed. With many businesses now working remotely from home, offices that once regularly hosted blood drives are empty. Similarly, many schools, which typically make up about 20 percent of blood donations, have closed their doors to outside partner events during the pandemic. This means blood drive hosts are harder to come by. With your help, we can ensure there are locations for donors to give blood in 2021.

Find information about hosting a blood drive or scheduling a donation appointment by visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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