According to the American Red Cross, approximately 38 percent of the population may be eligible to donate blood. Yet only a fraction of those eligible donate each year, perhaps due to misconceptions about donor eligibility.
“Sometimes, individuals with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes suspect they cannot donate blood. Cancer survivors may also think they are ineligible because of their previous illness,” stated Sharyn Whitman, CEO of American Red Cross, Indiana-Ohio Blood Services Region. “That may not always be the case.”
Whitman explained redcrossblood.org features detailed information about eligibility criteria, including chronic and acute illnesses, travel and lifestyle topics to help individuals determine their ability to donate blood or platelets. Additional questions may be directed to the Red Cross Donor Client Support Center by calling 1-866-236-3276.
She noted that the most common reason someone might not be able to donate on any given day is low hemoglobin. “Deferral for low hemoglobin can be temporary. The measure of iron in red blood cells can be improved by eating additional iron-rich foods or by discussing iron supplements with your family physician.”
Whitman added that earlier this year, the Red Cross expanded its website to include a section about iron, redcrossblood.org/iron. The web section provides specific tips for all blood donors, frequent blood donors and those who have been deferred for low hemoglobin in the past.
“We encourage anyone who is in good health to consider donating blood or platelets,” she commented. “The blood products on the shelves today are what help save lives in an emergency. Blood and platelets can come only from generous volunteer donors.”
Donors of all blood types are currently needed to donate blood, adding that O negative blood is currently in great demand.
Come to donate in October and be entered to win a $200 Visa gift card, courtesy of Suburban Propane.
Upcoming Red Cross blood drives include:
- Friday, Oct. 4, from 11:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the YMCA of Portage, located at 3100 Willowcreek Road in Portage.
- Saturday, Oct. 5, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Washington Evangelical Free Church in the gymnasium, located at 3805 LaPorte Ave. in Valparaiso.
- Monday, Oct. 7, from 12:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. at the Eagles Lodge in the Social Hall, located at 805 Elm St. in Valparaiso.
- Tuesday, Oct. 15, from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. at Valparaiso University School of Law, located at 656 Greenwich St. in Valparaiso. Come to donate and receive a coupon for one free taco courtesy of Taco Bell.
How to donate blood
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. 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 (16 with parental consent in some states), 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.
About the American Red Cross
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, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.