During Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, the American Red Cross urges eligible donors to band together to provide hope and healing to patients fighting cancer by giving blood or platelets. In appreciation, those who come to give Oct. 15-Nov. 11 will receive a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card via email, courtesy of Suburban Propane.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities Oct. 15-31 include the Penhook area Oct. 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Snow Creek Rescue Squad, 7049 Snow Creek Road, and the Boones Mill area Oct. 23 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Boones Mill Christian Church, 7950 Grassy Hill Drive.

Donors are asked to make appointments by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. 

Donors of all blood types are urged to help ensure a stable supply for cancer patients and others this fall. To thank those who come to give in October, the Red Cross is also offering a $1,000 Amazon.com Gift Card to five lucky winners. Terms and conditions apply. More information and details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/Unite.

Blood donations play a crucial role in cancer treatment. For example, Diane Doehrman began donating blood during college. In the years following, she became a platelet donor and even helped start blood drives in her community.

More recently, Doehrman’s been on the receiving end of blood donations. Fourteen years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now she has an incurable cancer, malignant mixed Müllerian tumor. 

“As a cancer patient, I had to have blood transfusions several times when the chemotherapy treatments have destroyed my immune system,” she said. “I am so very thankful for the donations from others. It can truly save a life.”

Cancer patients undergoing surgery and chemotherapy may require red blood cell or platelet transfusions. In fact, patients fighting cancer need more blood than those with any other disease, using nearly one-quarter of the nation’s blood supply.

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. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus. 

COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within one to two weeks in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity. The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows 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.

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. 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.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families.

The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org.

Read more in the next week's issue of the Smith Mountain Eagle newspaper. Pick up a copy or subscribe at www.smithmountaineagle.com/subscriber_services to view articles in the print and/or e-edition version.

 

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