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Red Cross encourages donations as pandemic continues

American Red Cross (Air Force/Released)

Right now, the American Red Cross has an emergency shortage of convalescent plasma, a potentially lifesaving treatment for patients with COVID-19. The Red Cross has seen demand for convalescent plasma more than double over the last month as the number of coronavirus cases increases across the U.S. Convalescent plasma products are now being distributed faster than donations are coming in to them.

Individuals who have fully recovered and received a verified COVID-19 diagnosis are urged to sign up to give convalescent plasma now by completing the donor eligibility form at RedCrossBlood.org/plasma4covid.

Convalescent plasma is plasma that is collected from patients who have recovered from an infection and have antibodies that might help fight that infection – in this case, those who have fully recovered from COVID-19. With each donation, COVID-19 survivors have a unique ability to help up to three patients recover from the virus.

Though this summer may feel different than summers past, one thing remains constant: The need for blood donations to help save lives. The Red Cross is urging healthy individuals to give blood to restock the shelves for patients battling disease and facing the unexpected.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, people across the country have stepped up to help by giving blood or platelets with the Red Cross. Blood donations from healthy individuals are just as essential now to meet patient needs, and those who gave this spring may be eligible to help again.

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Donation appointments can be made for the coming days and weeks by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

As a thank-you for helping ensure a stable blood supply, those who come to give blood, platelets or plasma, including convalescent plasma, from Aug. 1-Sept. 3 will receive a $5 Amazon.com gift card via email, courtesy of Amazon. Plus, come to give by Aug. 31 and automatically be entered for a chance to win a trip for four to Cedar Point or Knott’s Berry Farm, redeemable through the 2021 season.

To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, individuals who do not feel well or who believe they may be ill with COVID-19 should postpone their donation.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities include:

Aug. 5 from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 27 Broad St. in Hamilton.

Aug. 6 from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Canastota Veterans of Foreign Wars, 3835 Canal Road in Canastota.

Aug. 6 from 1 to 6 p.m. at Church on the Rock, 164 Madison St. in Oneida.

Aug. 14 from 1 to 6 p.m. at St Paul’s United Methodist Church, 551 Sayles St. in Oneida.

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 in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), 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.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.

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 cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit them on Twitter at @RedCross.

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© 2020 Observer-Dispatch