Red Cross encourages blood donations during holiday season

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BENNINGTON >> The American Red Cross is encouraging the public to donate blood during the holiday season.

The period between Thanksgiving and New Years is one of the toughest times to keep an adequate blood supply, according to Mary Brant, external communications manager of the Red Cross Northern New England Blood Services Region. Regular blood donors often get busy during the next few months and don't give as often as the usually do.

"People's schedules changes, or they're off visiting family and friends," Brant said Tuesday. "Their routine changes and often a donation appointment gets cancelled."

The Red Cross is a non-profit 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 -- nearly 4 million people donate blood each year and provide nearly half of the countries blood supply.

The organization has a constant need for blood, platelets and plasma, according to Brant. To maintain an adequate blood supply for hospitals, the Red Cross must collect 700 units of blood each day, she said.

And blood also has a shelf life — refrigerated red blood cells only have a shelf life of 42 days, while platelets, a component of blood that stops bleeding by clotting, only last four days.

"Every two seconds, someone in the country needs a blood donation," Brant added.

Blood donors with all types, especially O negative, B negative and A negative, are urged to give. Platelet donors and those with type AB blood are also continually needed.

To encourage donations around Thanksgiving, those who give blood or platelets from Nov. 25-29 will receive a limited-edition Red Cross mixing spoon with recipes from celebrity chefs John Besh, Richard Blais, Rocco DiSpirito, Mike Isabella, Ellie Krieger and Ali Larter, while supplies last.

To find a local blood drive, and to make an appointment to give blood, call 800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767) or download the free Red Cross Blood Donor App for your smartphone. Donors can use RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online at www.redcrossblood.org/RapidPass.

Because more than 80 percent of blood donations are made at blood drives, organizations are needed to host blood drives this winter to help ensure a sufficient blood supply for patients in need. More information on hosting a blood drive is available at www.redcrossblood.org.

Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979


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