Blood Donations Needed As Cancer Patients Resume Care After Challenging Year

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society have teamed up this June to encourage people across the country to Give Blood to Give Time and help ensure loved ones have the strength and support they need as they undergo cancer treatment.

 

According to the American Cancer Society, many patient visits and procedures were forced to delay or cancel early in the pandemic to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

With procedures resuming, blood donations are critical for cancer treatments. Unfortunately, the Red Cross is seeing fewer blood and platelet donors give as the nation begins to climb out of this pandemic. This downturn comes at a time when the Red Cross continues to see strong demand for blood products, including platelets, by hospitals, causing concern for the sufficiency of the blood supply this month and throughout the summer. 

 

The Red Cross currently has an emergency need for eligible donors to make an appointment now to give platelets to ensure critical patient needs are met. Platelets, the clotting portion of blood primarily given to cancer patients during treatment, must be transfused within five days of donation and, therefore, are always in great demand. 

 

“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.”

 

Some types of chemotherapy can damage bone marrow, reducing red blood cell and platelet production. Other times, the cancer itself or surgical procedures cause the need for blood products. About six blood products are needed every minute to help someone going through cancer treatment. Yet only 3% of people in the U.S. give blood. It is vital that more people donate blood and platelets regularly to meet that need. 

 

To schedule a blood or platelet donation appointment, visit GiveBloodToGiveTime.org. As a special thank-you, those who come to donate through June 13 will receive a limited-edition Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.

 

“The need for blood in cancer treatments is an important and untold story,” said Howard Byck, senior vice president of corporate and sports alliances, American Cancer Society. “The American Cancer Society is excited to be working with the Red Cross on Give Blood to Give Time. Through this partnership, we want people to know there are multiple ways they can help and make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients and their families.” 

 

Cancer takes so much, but you can help

In August 2016, Myel Bowers-Smith received an unexpected and life-changing medical diagnosis. What she thought was an infection from a mosquito bite was actually stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer. The cancer was a very rare and aggressive breast carcinoma that spread from her breast to her lymph nodes on the left side of her body. “I just knew something wasn’t right with my body,” she said.

 

Bowers-Smith was determined to keep a positive attitude even when her treatments left her feeling sick for days at a time, unable to eat and extremely fatigued. “I received five different chemotherapy treatments and steroids. I also received multiple plasma and platelet transfusions. I would be in the hospital bed for hours receiving treatments,” she said. 

 

After months of treatment, Bowers-Smith was told her cancer was in remission in February 2017. “I was more than excited because I survived. I won, and it was time to get my life back! This couldn’t defeat me,” she said. 

 

Bowers-Smith recognizes the role of blood products in her recovery and now encourages others to give. “Everyone needs someone, and this is your time to help someone who needs your blood or platelets. Be a blessing,” she said. “Eligible donors, you have something good – which is your blood. A pint of blood can help save lives, and you never know if you or someone you love would need donated blood or platelet products.”

 

Health insights for donors 

The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies through July 24. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether they developed symptoms. Testing may also identify the presence of antibodies developed after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation. 

 

At a time when health information has never been more important, the Red Cross is also screening all blood, platelet and plasma donations from self-identified African American donors for the sickle cell trait. This additional screening will provide Black donors with an additional health insight and help the Red Cross identify compatible blood types more quickly to help patients with sickle cell disease. Blood transfusion is an essential treatment for those with sickle cell disease, and blood donations from individuals of the same race, ethnicity and blood type have a unique ability to help patients fighting sickle cell disease.    

 

Donors can expect to receive antibody test and sickle cell trait screening results, if applicable, within one to two weeks through the Red Cross Blood Donor App and the online donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.  

 

Blood drive safety

The Red Cross has updated its pandemic safety protocols in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Fully vaccinated individuals, including staff and donors, no longer need to wear masks or socially distance. Unvaccinated individuals continue to be required to wear masks and socially distance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive. 

 

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including social distancing and face masks 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 mask while at the drive, in alignment with state guidance.

 

Upcoming blood donation opportunities June 1 through June 13: 

 

Hamilton County

 

Chattanooga

6/10/2021: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Southeast Tennessee American Red Cross Blood Drive, 4115 S. Access Road

_______________

 

Polk County

 

Benton

6/9/2021: 1 p.m. - 7 p.m., First Baptist Church, 2498 Parksville Rd

 

About blood donation 

Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device 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, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App. 


Morning Pointe Of East Hamilton Residents Win Art Contest In Partnership With Valamont Club, Rossville Elementary Students

CHI Memorial RN Residency Program Earns Accreditation With Distinction

2 Erlanger Nurses Recognized With DAISY Foundation Award


In a display of intergenerational excellence, Morning Pointe of East Hamilton residents Ann Hagerman and Bernice Peace recently placed first and second, respectively, in a local art contest produced ... (click for more)

CHI Memorial's RN Residency Program is accredited with distinction as a Practice Transition Program by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission (ANCC) on Accreditation in Practice ... (click for more)

Erlanger honored Daniel Linebaugh, BSN, and Justin Reason, BSN, as outstanding nurses, awarding each of them the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses. The award is a DAISY Foundation program ... (click for more)



Living Well

Morning Pointe Of East Hamilton Residents Win Art Contest In Partnership With Valamont Club, Rossville Elementary Students

In a display of intergenerational excellence, Morning Pointe of East Hamilton residents Ann Hagerman and Bernice Peace recently placed first and second, respectively, in a local art contest produced in partnership by the Valamont Woman’s Club and Rossville Elementary School. Members of the Valamont Woman’s Club delivered adult coloring pages and crayons to Morning Pointe of ... (click for more)

CHI Memorial RN Residency Program Earns Accreditation With Distinction

CHI Memorial's RN Residency Program is accredited with distinction as a Practice Transition Program by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission (ANCC) on Accreditation in Practice Transition Programs. This is the highest recognition awarded by the ANCC. All three CHI Memorial Hospitals are included in this accreditation with distinction designation. This is the ... (click for more)

Breaking News

New Dodge Ram That Crashed And Burned On I-75 South Near Dalton Was Owned By Edd Kirby Adventureland

The Georgia State Patrol said a new Dodge Ram that crashed and burned on I-75 South near Dalton on Monday afternoon belonged to the Edd Kirby Adventureland car dealership in Dalton. Authorities have still not given an identity of the driver, who perished in the wreck six days ago. A number of people in the auto industry said they believe well-known car dealer Joe Kirby was ... (click for more)

34-Year-Old Man Killed In Shooting Early Saturday Morning Outside The Mapco On Brainerd Road

Billy Burson, 34, was shot and killed early Saturday morning outside the Mapco on Brainerd Road. Chattanooga Police were dispatched to a hold-up alarm at 4711 Brainerd Road at approximately 12:30 a.m. Officers located Burson suffering from multiple gunshot wounds and secured the scene. Hamilton County EMS responded and pronounced Burson deceased on the scene. Investigators ... (click for more)

Opinion

Marsha Blackburn Should Focus On Finding Compromise On The Infrastructure Bill - And Response (2)

Marsha seems obsessed with Dr. Fauci. Does it always have to be about her? I wish it was more about us. If it was more about us, instead of Marsha, she would be hard at work finding compromise on the federal infrastructure bill. No other city in the nation would benefit more from the infrastructure bill than Chattanooga. But Marsha has never read the bill and does not ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Sunday Funnies

Hooray for the Sunday Funnies, which usually show up when technical difficulties take place just before midnight on Friday, snuffing out the customary Saturday Funnies. It should be known technical difficulties include “Operator Error” as the fault for delay but there is neither rhyme nor reason to what happened on Friday. Suffice it to say this version of the Sunday Funnies was ... (click for more)