Red Cross looking to end seasonal donation shortage

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Paige from the Red Cross collects blood from donor Jerry for the Summer Blood Drive at the Atonement Church on Tuesday July 7 (Photo by Gustin Schumacher)
Paige from the Red Cross collects blood from donor Jerry for the Summer Blood Drive at the Atonement Church on Tuesday July 7. Photo by Gustin Schumacher.

The American Red Cross is reaching out this summer to end the seasonal blood shortage in St. Cloud, which is affected by the lack of donors.

“During the academic school year, 20 percent of donations come from students,” said Sue Thesenga, communications manager for the American Red Cross.

During the summer, national holidays add to an already busy time of year for many people. Although many people are busy, “hospitals need blood,” Thesenga continued.

In St. Cloud, there are many events offered by the American Red Cross throughout the summer to donate blood. Many of these events include blood drives at local churches and schools.

Currently all blood types are needed, especially those with blood types O negative, A negative and B negative, according to a press release.

“O negative is a universal blood type,” Thesenga continued, “which can be used in cases of emergency for any transfusions.” According to the American Red Cross website, 7 percent of Americans have this universal blood type.

The Red Cross website also says that one pint of blood–­­­the amount of blood given per donation­­–can go to save up to three lives.

According to a press release, blood and platelets are needed for many different reasons, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery patients and those receiving treatment for leukemia may all need blood.

Thesenga said those 17 or older–unless you’re 16 with parental consent–are able to go through the eligibility process. She adds that the donation process usually takes “about an hour, and is made up of four different steps.”

The first step in the process is registration. You go over basic donation information and provide identification. The second step in donating, Thesenga said, is a short physical and giving your health history.

After providing the necessary information, the donation can begin. According to Thesenga, the donation takes “five to 10 minutes, and is followed by refreshments.”

After a donation, the Red Cross website recommends a lot of water to rehydrate yourself, and that donors are eligible for donating every 56 days, or if you donate double red blood cells, every 112 days.

After the blood is donated, Thesenga said that “it is sent to a manufacturing lab for testing, and then sent to hospitals where it is given to patients in need.”

For those who are ineligible to donate blood, or are looking for another way to help, Thesenga said the Red Cross relies on its volunteers to stay running.

For those unable to donate blood, there is also a program to encourage others to donate. Sleeves up is an online blood drive to get friends and family to commit to donating blood, Thesenga said.

Thesenga said that the seasonal blood shortage could be ended if “just two more donors came to each event.”