WILKES-BARRE — This holiday season the American Red Cross is suggesting that people give a gift that keeps on giving – a blood or platelet donation.
The Red Cross is a nonprofit humanitarian organization that offers disaster relief, health and safety services, and assistance to military family, among other services. It’s also among the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the country, providing nearly half of the country’s blood supply.
According to Bill Goldsworthy executive director of the American Red Cross Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter, the period between Thanksgiving and the new year is the one of the toughest times of year to keep an adequate blood supply.
Continuing need during the holiday
“During the winter months and especially around the holidays, blood donations tend to decline,” said Beth Toll, External Communications Manager for the Red Cross Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region. “Long holiday weekends like Thanksgiving, pose an extra challenge when many donors are traveling to be with family and friends. The Red Cross encourages people to make an appointment to donate blood or platelets and give a meaningful gift to a patient this holiday season.”
The shelf life of blood presents a further challenge, with refrigerated red blood cells only having a shelf life of 42 days, while platelets, a component of blood that stops bleeding by clotting, only lasts four days.
Facilitating blood donation
A new program entitled RapidPass allows donors to start the blood donation process from the comfort of their home or office and save time at the donation site. The process is simple and involved reading information online and completing several questions, then printing out the RapidPass info for presentation at the blood donation site.
RapidPass streamlines the donation experience by allowing donors to complete the pre-donation health screening online. It reduces the time donors spend at blood drives by up to 15 minutes, although appointments are still necessary.
A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are also required at check-in. Donors are required to weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health.
Toll said the opportunity to participate in the program facilitates quick blood donations during the holidays and throughout the year.
Reach Geri Gibbons at 570-991-6117 or on Twitter @TLGGibbons.