Pint by Pint
Whether you realize it or not, you have the potential to give life to someone. You, an ordinary person going about your ordinary day. Every beat of your heart is the chance to do something that will mean everything to someone who needs what you probably don’t even give thought to—the blood pumping through your veins at this very moment.
According to data provided by the American Red Cross, someone, somewhere in the U.S. is in need of blood every two seconds. Every 30 seconds, someone needs platelets. Unfortunately, there’s an extreme shortage of the needed blood supply across the nation, and we’re currently facing an emergency situation that puts surviving a medical crisis in danger.
“Blood transfusion is the fourth most common inpatient hospital procedure in the U.S., and these blood products can only come from volunteer donors,” says Tiffany Taylor, External Communications Manager for the American Red Cross Tennessee Valley Blood Services Region. “Despite that fact, only three out of 100 people in the U.S. give blood. Hospitals need blood to perform transfusions for patients experiencing blood loss during surgery or due to trauma as well as to those undergoing organ transplants. They also need blood to treat patients with medical conditions such as sickle cell anemia and cancer.”
While all blood types are needed to help ensure that a sufficient blood supply is available for patients who need transfusions, type O negative and positive are in especially high demand. As a universal blood type that can be used in situations of high emergency when time does not allow testing to determine a patient’s blood type, type O negative is especially crucial to have in ready supply. Similarly, type O positive is the most common blood type and can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type.
“Right now, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of most blood types available, and less than a two-day supply of type O blood,” Taylor goes on. “Blood donations are currently being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in, so more donations are needed now to replenish the blood supply. The Red Cross strives to keep a five-day supply on hand at all times to meet the needs of patients every day and to be prepared for emergencies that would require significant volumes of donated blood products.”
The reason for that shortage? “The long Fourth of July weekend is typically a time when fewer people donate blood, and whenever there is a decline in donations, a shortage can quickly develop,” explains Pamela Holz, who was recently named Executive Director for the Tennessee River Chapter of the American Red Cross. In her new position, Holz will oversee volunteer development, fundraising, relationship management, stewarding the board of directors, and leading the local Red Cross team from the Clarksville chapter office in their efforts to meet whatever emergency needs arise. At present, the focus lies on the blood shortage and replenishing the diminished supply.
There are, of course, requirements for being able to donate. Potential donors must be a minimum of 17 years of age in most states—though some states allow 16 year-olds to donate with parental consent—weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in generally good health. Donors 18 years of age and younger must also meet certain height and weight requirements before being eligible.
Unfortunately, even if someone meets all these requirements, various other factors might affect their ability to donate. Not feeling well on the day of donation or being sick with a cold, the flu, or other type of illness; the use of certain medications; iron deficiencies; and international travel within the last year or to a country known for malaria risk in the past three years may delay an individual’s ability to donate, which also feeds into the current lack of blood supply.
Another great challenge often lies with raising awareness of the need for blood donations and to drive traffic to donation centers, which is why actual blood drives located in high-traffic areas are so important. Throughout the year, various establishments within the community show their own support for the cause by hosting these crucial events, which is extremely beneficial in being able to attract the attention of anyone and everyone who might be able to donate in a way that is both convenient and more approachable.
Recently showing their own support of the Red Cross, Governor’s Square Mall hosted a blood drive on July 5th, collecting 25 units of blood donated by 26 previously registered donors and registering four first-time donors to the program.
“The efforts of Governor’s Square Mall has always been greatly appreciated, and their support of the community blood program will go a long way toward replenishing blood supplies and ultimately saving lives,” says Carolyn Petty, American Red Cross Donor Recruitment Representative, Tennessee Valley Region.
“We strive to be more of a community destination and outreach center and welcome charitable opportunities such as hosting the Red Cross blood drives. As someone who understands the numerous ways that individuals benefit from the donations, I encourage the Red Cross to schedule as many drives as possible here throughout the year,” says Governor’s Square Mall Marketing Director Andra Ruffier. “My father is currently battling cancer, so I know that patients often need transfusions for platelets and red cell replenishments, especially during chemotherapy. These drives help me feel as if I am contributing to help patients and their families through an often difficult time.”
It’s a good feeling, knowing that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life, that even the seemingly smallest of acts could change the future. Every second that you’re hooked up to those tubes, every pint that passes from your veins, means that one more person is given a chance at survival. And that’s a gift worth more than all the money in the world.
Want to Donate?
Visit redcrossblood.org, download their app, or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to schedule a blood donation appointment. Donors must present one primary form of identification such as a Red Cross donor ID, a driver’s license or other state- or government-issued ID with photo, or a student ID with photo.
With the help of a generous $1 million donation from Amazon, the Red Cross is thanking those who help alleviate the blood shortage by coming to donate July 29 through Aug. 29 with a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card* via email.
Meet Pamela Holz
Recently named Executive Director for the Tennessee River Chapter of the American Red Cross, Holz brings her passion for serving and her professional expertise to the position, a strong combination that will serve as an asset to the organization in its efforts to provide emergency relief.
“We are thrilled to have Pamela join the Red Cross leadership team in Tennessee,” says Joel Sullivan, Regional Executive for the Tennessee Region. “Her passion for serving the community and her commitment to getting the Red Cross mission out in the public really excites us, and we look forward to supporting her in her new career.”
As the former Center Operations and Program Manager for the USO Fort Campbell and Nashville—the world’s largest USO facility—Holz gained invaluable experience in managing the needs of large volumes of people as she oversaw more than 17,000 military guests a month. It was, for her, a way to serve the community; and in her new role, she looks forward to the opportunity to make an even greater impact.