Blood donation could send you to the Super Bowl

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In the Georgia region, 166 blood drives have been canceled, resulting in 7,713 fewer blood donations.

Blood supplies are critically low, forcing doctors to decide who gets transfusions

The American Red Cross is facing its worst blood crisis in more than a decade, it announced this week.

Because of this, doctors have been forced to decide who gets a transfusion and who will need to wait. Blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments.

ExploreBlood donors needed in Georgia, elsewhere to restore ‘very depleted’ inventory

“While some types of medical care can wait, others can’t,” Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of the Red Cross, said in a press release. “Hospitals are still seeing accident victims, cancer patients, those with blood disorders like sickle cell disease, and individuals who are seriously ill who all need blood transfusions to live even as omicron cases surge across the country. We’re doing everything we can to increase blood donations to ensure every patient can receive medical treatments without delay, but we cannot do it without more donors. We need the help of the American people.”

The Red Cross said it had experienced a 10% decline in the number of people donating blood since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. It also has seen low donor turnout ever since the delta variant began spreading in August — a trend that continues with the omicron variant.

Supplying 40% of the nation’s blood, the Red Cross has had to limit distributions to hospitals in recent weeks. Some hospitals might get less than a quarter of the blood products requested. Blood cannot be manufactured or stockpiled, and can only be made available through the kindness of volunteer donors.

“Every community in America needs blood on a daily basis. At a time when many businesses and organizations across the country are experiencing pandemic challenges — the Red Cross is no different. And while we are all learning how to live in this new environment, how we spend our time, where we work, how we give back, how we make a difference in the lives of others — donating blood must continue to be part of it,” Young said.

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There is no substitute for human blood. All transfusions use blood from a donor. Each whole blood donation can help as many as three people.

“Blood enables lifesaving surgery and cancer treatments, and it is important for supporting babies who are born prematurely. If demand continues to outstrip supply, then hospitals will be forced to ration the available inventory. We certainly want all patients who need a transfusion to be able to receive one. In 2021, blood remains a critical community resource. Our community needs you,” Dr. Justin Kreuter, a transfusion medicine physician with the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center, said in June.

As a way of saying thank you, the Red Cross and NFL are partnering during National Blood Donor Month. Those who give blood, platelets or plasma in January will automatically be entered for a chance to win a getaway to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. As an extra thank you from the Red Cross, those who donate will also be automatically entered to win a home theater package and a $500 egift card. Visit RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl for more information.

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. In most states you must be 17 years or older, or 16 with parental consent, weigh at least 110 pounds and in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.

Locally, you can donate blood at one of the Red Cross’ donation centers.

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