For the most part, we are a very giving nation. Clothes (69%), money (63%) and food (53%) are the primary ways that the public has donated to help others in the past year, according to a recent survey. But too often, we don’t think to donate one of the most-important and in-demand resources that every one of us has — blood. And that leads to shortages that can be deadly for those who need specific types, such as cancer patients, accident victims and new mothers and their babies facing complications.
According to the American Red Cross, which commissioned the referenced survey, just 3 out of 100 people in the United States give blood. “Never really thought about it” was the primary reason (26%) given for not donating. The same survey revealed that one-third (33%) of the public has never even considered that blood may not be available when a loved one needs it. This despite the fact that blood transfusions are the fourth-most common inpatient hospital procedure in this country. In fact, just last month, the Red Cross had only six units of type O blood available for every 100,000 people, according to the organization, but more than twice that is needed every day.
Earlier this month, the Red Cross launched the Missing Types campaign to urge the public to fill the gaps by making an appointment to give blood or platelets this summer. For example, “The _meric_n Red Cr_ss needs _l_ _d d_n_rs,” began a recent Red Cross news release. Get it? The letters A, B and O — the letters representing the main blood groups — are disappearing from brands, social media pages, signs and websites to illustrate the critical role blood donors play in helping patients. When the letters A, B and O vanish from everyday life, the gaps are striking, the release read, and when A, B, O and AB blood types go missing from hospital shelves, patient care and medical treatments are affected.
“Just last month, the Red Cross experienced a critical shortage of type O blood. When this happens, medical procedures could be delayed because blood products are not available,” said Cliff Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Blood Services. “That’s why we are asking those eligible to help fill the missing types by making a donation appointment today.”
It’s easy to make an appointment and potential blood donors do not need to know their blood type before giving blood. In fact, after giving blood, Red Cross provides each donor their blood type. Once an appointment has been made, donors sign in, show identification and read some required information. They then answer questions and receive a mini-physical. It takes about 8 to 10 minutes to donate a pint of blood and donors can enjoy snacks and relax before resuming their day.
In Carroll County, donations can be made in Hampstead on July 9 from 2 to 7 p.m. at Hampstead Baptist Church, 328 Hanover Pike; in Westminster at Best Western Westminster Catering & Conference Center, 451 WMC Drive, on July 9, 10 and 11 from 1 to 7 p.m.; and in Eldersburg on July 13, from 6:45 to 11:45 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 915 Liberty Road.
Or other arrangements can be made. The Red Cross urges donors of all blood types to give now. During the summer, especially around holidays like Independence Day, donations often don’t keep pace with patient needs, according to the release. Donors can help fill the missing types by making an appointment to give by visiting RedCrossBlood.org/MissingTypes, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).