Emergency need for blood, platelet donations as cancer patients resume care after challenging year


OHIO (WJW) — For months, many, particularly cancer patients, delayed or canceled procedures and treatments due to health risks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, as many are resuming their doctors’ appointments, there is an emergency need for blood and platelet donations that are essential to their treatments.

The American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society are teaming up to encourage people to give those donations.

“Many cancer patients, especially those going through chemotherapy, will have a need for blood products during treatment,” said Dr. Baia Lasky, medical director for the Red Cross. “When someone donates blood or platelets, they may not only help prevent life-threatening bleeding that can cause stroke or relieve some symptoms, like shortness of breath and headaches, but also give patients and their families the time and hope they need to fight back.”

The Red Cross is continuing to see a strong demand for blood products by hospitals, causing concern for the sufficiency of the blood supply this month and throughout the summer, according to a press release.

Why such a need for blood and platelets?

Platelets are the clotting portion of blood primarily given to cancer patients during treatment. They must be transfused within five days of donations, so they are always in great demand.

Some types of chemo can damage bone marrow, which reduces red blood cell and platelet production. Cancer and surgical procedures also cause the need for blood products.

According to the Red Cross, about six blood products are needed every minute to help someone going through cancer treatment.

There is also currently an emergency need for type O blood donors. That’s the most needed blood group by hospitals. Type O positive is the most transfused blood type and can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type.

Am I eligible to donate?

According to the Red Cross , those who are 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and who are in generally good health may be eligible to donate.

Those who have or who haven’t had the COVID-19 vaccine can donate. Those who have had the vaccine are, however, asked to know which of the three vaccines they received.

Anyone who isn’t feeling well should not donate blood.

How do I donate?

To donate blood or platelets, the Red Cross asks donors to make an appointment first. To save time, donors can download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App. They can also save time by using the RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online.

For much more on moving forward blood and platelet donation or to schedule an appointment, click here.

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