Donors of all blood types urged to give blood, platelets this holiday season

The American Red Cross is urging eligible donors to give more life to patients now and into the new year by giving blood or platelets.

Donations decline during the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day when busy holiday schedules cause regular donors to be less available to give and many blood drives may be canceled due to severe winter storms. Last year, nearly 64,000 fewer blood and platelet donations were given through the Red Cross during the seven weeks from Thanksgiving through the first week of January than the average during the rest of the year.

“By taking just about an hour of time today, you can help save someone’s life within a few weeks or even days of your donation,” said Kelly Isenor, External Communications Manager of the Red Cross Connecticut Blood Services Region. “We’re asking donors to give now to help ensure blood is available when patients need it most.”

Blood is perishable and can only be replenished by volunteer donors. Red blood cells, the most transfused blood product, must be transfused within 42 days. Platelets, the tiny cells that form clots and help stop bleeding, must be transfused within just five days. More than half of all platelet donations go to cancer patients who may need platelet transfusions to prevent life-threatening bleeding during chemotherapy.

“Platelet donors don’t have to wait a few weeks to make a difference in a patient’s life,” said Isenor. “Someone could donate platelets on Monday, and by Friday, those same platelets can help someone’s fight to kick cancer.”

Kelly Ellison certainly knows that. Twenty-eight weeks into her third pregnancy, she was raced to the hospital with uncontrollable bleeding and received a doubly devastating diagnosis. Not only did she have aplastic anemia — a rare blood disorder in which the body’s bone marrow does not produce enough new blood cells — doctors also detected kidney cancer. Kelly received 43 units of blood and platelets. Five weeks later, she gave birth prematurely to her son, who also needed blood transfusions to survive.

“Our lives have been forever changed because of lifesaving blood and platelet donations,” said Ellison. “Every breath I take is a blessing!”

All blood types are needed this winter. Platelet donations are especially encouraged the first week of the new year, which is among the most difficult to collect enough platelets to meet patient needs. Donation appointments can be quickly and easily scheduled by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

As a special thank-you for taking the time to donate, those who come to give Dec. 21 through Jan. 7 will receive a long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities in Fairfield County:

Bethel

  • Jan. 5, 1:30-6:30 p.m., Walnut Hill Community Church, 156 Walnut Hill Rd.

Bridgeport

  • Dec. 20, 12:30-5:30 p.m., Bridgeport Hospital, 267 Grant Street
  • Dec. 20, 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Bridgeport Hospital, 267 Grant Street
  • Jan. 2, 1-6:15 p.m., Burroughs Community Center, 2470 Fairfield Avenue

Brookfield

  • Dec. 26, 1:30-6:30 p.m., Brookfield Library, 182 Whisconier Road
  • Dec. 27, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., On Track Karting, 100 Silvermine Road

Danbury

  • Dec. 21, 12:30-5:30 p.m., Danbury Hospital RSM, 24 Hospital Avenue
  • Dec. 23, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Immanuel Lutheran Church, 18 Clapboard Ridge Rd.
  • Dec. 27, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Hilton Garden Inn, 119 Mill Plain Road
  • Jan. 8, 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Danbury Hospital RSM, 24 Hospital Avenue
  • Jan. 15, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Danbury Fire Department, 19 New Street

East Norwalk

  • Jan. 10, 1-6 p.m., East Norwalk Library, 51 Van Zant Street

Fairfield

  • Dec. 20, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Congregation Beth El, 1200 Fairfield Woods Road
  • Dec. 30, 8 a.m.-1:15 p.m., Trinity St. Michael’s Church, 554 Tunxis Hill Road
  • Jan. 4, 1-6:30 p.m., YMCA, 841 Old Post Road

Greenwich

  • Jan. 8, 1:30-6:30 p.m., Temple Sholom, 300 East Putnam Avenue

Monroe

  • Dec. 20, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Dunkin Donuts / Baskin Robbins, 135 Main Street
  • Jan. 6, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Beacon Hill Evangelical Free Church, 371 Old Zoar Road

Newtown

  • Dec. 28, 1-6 p.m., Newtown Municipal, 3 Primrose Street
  • Jan. 9, 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Newtown Congregational Church, 14 West St.

Norwalk

  • Dec. 24, 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Temple Shalom, 259 Richards Street
  • Dec. 27, 11:45 a.m.-4:45 p.m., Walgreens, 55 Westport Avenue

Ridgefield

  • Jan. 4, 1:30-6:30 p.m., Ridgefield Park & Recreation Center, 195 Danbury Rd.

Shelton

  • Jan. 2, 8 a.m.-1:45 p.m., R.D. Scinto Towers, 2 Corporate Drive
  • Jan. 3, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., OEM Controls, 20 Controls Drive

Sherman

  • Jan. 13, 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Sherman Volunteer Fire Department, 1 CT 39

Stamford

  • Dec. 23, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Tully Health Center, 32 Strawberry Hill Court
  • Dec. 30, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Tully Health Center, 32 Strawberry Hill Court
  • Jan. 13, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Tully Health Center, 32 Strawberry Hill Court

Stratford

  • Dec. 20, 1:30-6:30 p.m., Baldwin Senior Center, 1000 West Broad Street

Trumbull

  • Dec. 23, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., St. Theresa Parish, 5301 Main Street
  • Jan. 5, 1:30-6:30 p.m., Grace Episcopal Church, 5958 Main Street
  • Jan. 5, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Insports Centers, 29 Trefoil Drive
  • Jan. 12, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., St. Vincent’s Special Needs Center, 95 Merritt Boulevard

Wilton

  • Dec. 21, 1-6:30 p.m., Wilton Library, 137 Old Ridgefield Rd.
  • Jan. 5, 9:45 a.m.-2:45 p.m., YMCA, 404 Danbury Road

How to donate blood or platelets

Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information. 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, from a computer or mobile device. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.

About the American Red Cross

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, visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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