Winter Weather Gives Blood Donation the Cold Shoulder
Belleville Community Blood Drive to be Held in March
February 18, 2021
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 now, 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 recent weeks, 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.
Do your part at the Belleville Community Blood Drive, to be held on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, at St. Mary of Lourdes, 221 Frederick Street, from 1:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. All blood donations are now tested for COVID-19 antibodies. Please see https://www.redcrossblood.org/antibodytesting for more details.
An appointment is strongly recommended. To do so, please download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit http://www.redcrossblood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or activate the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa. Completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire found at http://www.redcrossblood.org/rapidpass is encouraged to help speed up the donation process. 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.
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.”
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.