Holiday blood donors sought as Red Cross says: ‘Give something that means something’
With the public already familiar with organized efforts to get them shopping and donating to charity around the holidays — Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and now Giving Tuesday — the American Red Cross hopes there is time in that busy holiday schedule for a blood donation.
All one needs to spend is some time.
Winter, especially the holiday season, and summer are the times of most urgent need for blood donors, according to Red Cross spokesman Colin Riccoban. Winter weather and summer travel plans are also often cited for the shortage.
“Obviously this time of year donations typically decline for a variety of reasons,” Riccoban said. “People are busy, the holiday schedules start, people are traveling and we never know what Mother Nature has in store for Massachusetts.”
Gift promotions such as T-shirts, coupons for coffee in the past and even a serving spoon packaged with celebrity chef recipe cards in November have been offered to help get donors in the door. Permanent donor centers across the state have also planned holiday hours, opening for half-days on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
It’s all designed to meet a need that never takes a vacation or holiday, according to Riccoban.
“Right now, we’re meeting needs of patients in hospitals,” he said. “But we want to remind people that, even though it is the holiday season, patients are still depending on blood donors to roll up their sleeves. What we’re asking people to do is to give something that means something.”
The time involved for whole blood donations varies with traffic at a given blood drive or donor center, but typically takes about 45 minutes with platelet donations requiring about two and a half hours. A new online health history called Rapid Pass speeds up the registration process.
Platelets, the clotting component of blood, must be transfused into patients within five days and are required by hospitals for surgery and cancer treatment. Whole blood has a shelf life of 42 days.
“We want to ensure that the blood supply remains stable,” Riccoban said. “We know people are on the go, but there’s no substitute for a volunteer blood donor.”
December blood drives in the area include:
• Saturday, Dec 5 — 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Phoenix Masonic Lodge, 133 Broadway St., Hanover.
• Wednesday, Dec. 9 — 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Loyal Order of Moose, 601 State Road, Plymouth.
• Friday, Dec. 11 — 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Plymouth, 275 Sandwich St., Plymouth.
• Saturday, Dec. 12 — 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tri Town Masonic Lodge, 38 Franklin St., East Bridgewater.
• Wednesday, Dec. 16 — 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Social Harmony Lodge AF & AM, 2509 Cranberry Highway (Route 28), Wareham.
• Friday, Dec. 18 — 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Braemoor Health Center, 34 N. Pearl St., Brockton.
• Saturday, Dec. 19 — 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Knights of Columbus, 254 Hancock Str., Abington.
• Tuesday, Dec. 22 — 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Duxbury Senior Center, 10 Mayflower St., Duxbury.
• Tuesday, Dec. 22 — 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Kingston Collection, 101 Kingston Collection Way, Kingston.
For an appointment visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).