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If your loved one had an emergency and needed an immediate blood transfusion, but the hospital didn’t have any blood available, what would you do? This situation is very real and probable. According to the American Red Cross, hospitals are 40,000 units behind their normal blood supply. Summertime is the place to be for vacations, fun, school-free zone and… accidents. This is where you come in – your blood and your generosity can lead to saving a life in an unexpected emergency. Meet Christ Hrouda, the Red Cross Executive Vice President of Biomedical Services.
What is the purpose of blood donation and why now?
The purpose of donation is to ensure that we have an adequate supply of safe blood for patients in need all across the country. We need it now as we particularly have a challenging time in the summer, which is no different than the past summers; we still have a significant shortage and we need people to come out and participate. We can’t deal with this blood shortage because frankly, we really have less access to donors in the summer.
People get busy and are on vacations enjoying the summer activities which are common across the country, so they’re less available to donate. Add to that, about 20% of our blood donations during the year come from students at high schools and colleges and those students aren’t available to us in the summer. This is what really puts a pretty big dent for what’s available in our blood supply during the summer months.
Tell us about the current condition of the blood shortage and how families can help those who need blood right now.
The current conditions we are in is an emergency call for blood donors across the country – so that’s why I’m glad you’re helping us out today. You’re getting the message out to potential donors and they can come in and donate now. It’s interesting to know that we’ve actually collected about 40,000 less units over the last 3-4 months than the hospitals have requested from us. Of course that makes our inventory levels quite low and what we’re really working on now is to replenish those inventory levels. People can help by scheduling an appointment to donate blood – that’s the easiest way to help us. We make it pretty easy for them to do just that – people can use our website at redcrossblood.org or they can call us; there are agents available on the phone when you call 1-800-Red-Cross. For those who prefer using a smart device, we have a great app that people can download to make it really easy for them. It will allow you to see where the local blood donation opportunities are, making it really easy to schedule your blood donation. So we encourage people to schedule their donation through the app, on our website or call; there are lots of easy ways for people to participate in the process.
WHO IS ABLE TO DONATE?
Generally, we need healthy people; the age restrictions are different for each state. They may have different regulations on how young you can be; most places you can be as young as 16 or 17 and we have no upper age limit on donations, so it doesn’t matter how old you are. If you’re healthy and in good shape you can contribute. They can come in and donate and we are really good at helping the process along, getting you in and out. It’s pretty simple and takes a little less than an hour. You can expect to do a health history and a brief medical assessment when you come into the donor site. The actual donation process only takes about 10 to 15 minutes and then we get you onto the refreshment area. Here we give you the juice and cookies that everybody clamors for.
Should parents get a sitter?
Yes, the process takes about an hour that you’re there at our donor center where you’re usually quite busy and tied up in the health history area and then onto the actual donation process. If people can make arrangements for childcare, that makes it easier for people to come in, and we will get them through as quickly as possible so they can get back to their daily responsibilities.
Is there an app for that?
If people go to wherever they get their apps, whether it’s the Apple Store or through an Android site, search for the Red Cross Blood Donor App. It’s very easy to download and again it’s really simple to use and very intuitive. People can schedule their donation and they can use it to interact with their favorite social media sites and post pictures of themselves donating. Who knows, maybe they can encourage other people to participate as well.
I would just like to ask that all eligible donors give blood; we need them now! The shortage is very significant – again they should just go to our website at Red Cross. Or call us or download the app, but we need folks to come now and participate just to make sure that this blood is available on the shelf for patients in need. It’s pretty simple and pretty painless. We will take great care of you and you’ll feel great after doing it.
Mr. Hrouda is responsible for blood collections, testing, manufacturing and distribution operations throughout the Red Cross. In 2016, he was appointed to serve as the chair of the Alliance of Blood Operators to help promote international cooperation and strategic support between more than 90 blood industry operators.
How else do you think you can help in your local community? Go check out How You Can Help A Foster Child; there’s more to it than just being a parent.