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Giving Blood Could Win You a Trip to the Superbowl

On January 7, 2024, the Red Cross declared an emergency blood shortage. In their press release they shared, “One of the most distressing situations for a doctor is to have a hospital full of patients and an empty refrigerator without any blood products,” said Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of the Red Cross, the nation’s largest blood supplier. “A person needs lifesaving blood every two seconds in our country — and its availability can be the difference between life and death, however, blood is only available thanks to the generosity of those who roll up a sleeve to donate.”

Alameda Post - a graphic of a blood donation with a cartoon heart filling up from a donation receptacle

Blood is essential to all our lives, and we should all work to allay this situation so, in the unfortunate situation, that we or someone we love needs blood, it is readily available.

According to Guinness World Records, “The American Red Cross is the world’s largest supplier of blood, plasma, and tissue products. It supplies almost half of the nation’s blood by working with more than 4.5 million donors and 3,000 hospitals through its national network of 38 blood regions.”



Filling an urgent need

My hope is that you are never in a dire situation needing blood, but should you be, I hope that it is in good supply so you can get what you need immediately. My life would be vastly different today, had blood not available when my world flipped upside-down one day many years ago.

It wasn’t me that needed blood, it was my sixteen-month-old son. For unknown reasons, he almost bled out. He needed an emergency transfusion and his tiny body required two units of blood. To put this into perspective, the average adult body contains about ten pints of blood. A unit of blood is roughly one pint. I was at the hospital and would have chopped off my arm to get the blood to save my baby, but that is not the way life works.

More than a decade later, that little tyke is now a tall teen who reaches for items from the top shelves for his mom, so she doesn’t need to get a stepstool. A skilled doctor and readily available supplies of blood are the reasons he has had the opportunity to grow taller than both his parents.

Obstacles to giving

In the press release linked above, the Red Cross reported that they have experienced a decline in blood donations by about 40% over the last two decades. A contributing factor to the decline may be the increasing number of people working from home, a dramatic change brought upon in recent years by COVID-19. A common strategy by blood banks had been to conduct blood drives at workplaces, essentially meeting people where they were. With fewer employees in the office, onsite blood drives reach fewer potential donors.

Recent extreme weather conditions have made this bad situation even worse. On January 16, 2024, the Red Cross reported, “…the weather is forcing the cancellation of Red Cross blood collections across the country. Since the start of the month, as many as 370 blood drives across 27 states have been canceled, causing more than 11,000 lifesaving blood and platelet donations to go uncollected. This comes at a critical time ─ the Red Cross has reported an emergency blood shortage, that blood and platelet donations are needed to ensure lifesaving medical procedures are not delayed.”

Alameda Post - an image with a Las Vegas neon sign that says "Give Blood for your Chance to Win"
Image American Red Cross.

How can you help?

I know that the Alameda Post has many hidden heroes among its readers. But those that want to help may not know how. I have a solution for that.

Will you help me with my SleevesUp campaign? Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. Help me to celebrate life by ensuring that patients in need get lifesaving blood. I’m asking you to make and keep an appointment to give blood to the American Red Cross. It’s easy to find an appointment that’s near to you and every donation can help save up to three lives. View my campaign and pledge to give.

Because January is National Blood Donor month, The American Red Cross and the NFL are partnering for the fifth year to invite football fans and blood donors to join their lifesaving team and score big for patients in need. So don’t delay in rolling up your sleeve to donate blood. In addition to the reward of doing something impactful, you may win a trip to Las Vegas to see this year’s Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium!

Contributing writer Denise Lum is a Health and Fitness Coach raising her family in Alameda. Contact her via [email protected] or FitnessByDsign.com. Her writing is collected at AlamedaPost.com/Denise-Lum.

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