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July 4, 2017 > Easy steps to becoming a blood donor

Easy steps to becoming a blood donor

Submitted By Christine Welch

The American Red Cross urges eligible donors to give blood this summer for hospital patients in need and offers three easy steps people can take to help save lives.

¥ Schedule: Use the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment.
¥ Prepare: Get a good nightÕs sleep, eat a nutritious meal and drink extra fluids.
¥ Give: The donation process, start to finish, takes about an hour. The actual donation only takes about 10 minutes.

Only about 3 percent of the U.S. population gives blood, which means a heavy reliance on repeat donors to maintain a sufficient blood supply. New blood donors are especially needed during the summer months because many schools where blood drives are heldÑand where new donors give Ñare not in session, and current donors often delay giving due to summer vacations.

Patients like Anna Schuster might not be here without generous volunteer blood donors. Doctors gave Schuster a 1 percent chance of survival after a collision with a semitrailer. During the first 12 hours after her accident, she received 65 units of blood. SchusterÕs road to recovery has been longÑ58 surgeries in the 12 years since her accident, including four in the past 14 months, with many of them requiring more blood transfusions.

Every day there are thousands of patients like Schuster who rely on lifesaving blood donations. ThatÕs why donors are urged to give now and give often.

In June, the Red Cross joins blood collection agencies around the world marking World Blood Donor Day by raising awareness about the need for a readily available blood supply. Make an appointment to donate blood by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donors can make an even greater impact by inviting others to join them in giving.

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driverÕs 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 donors can now 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, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.

Another way to support the lifesaving mission of the American Red Cross is to become a volunteer transportation specialist and deliver lifesaving blood products to local area hospitals. Volunteer transportation specialists play a very important role in ensuring an ample blood supply for patients in need by transporting blood and blood products. For more information and to apply for a volunteer transportation specialist position, visit rdcrss.org/driver.

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