By Hayley Crandall
The American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society have teamed up this month to encourage people across the country to donate blood to support cancer patients undergoing treatment, the organizations announced in a press release this week.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many procedures were delayed in order to ensure the safety of these high-risk patients, according to the American Cancer Society. While these have begun to pick up again, blood donations haven’t, leading to the call for people to “Give Blood to Give Time.”
Cancer patients use nearly one-fourth of the blood supply, according to the Red Cross, but only 3% of Americans give blood in a given year. Some types of chemotherapy can damage bone marrow, affecting blood cell and platelet production, and cancer-related surgeries also call for it, according to the release.
Dr. Baia Lasky, medical director for the Red Cross, explained in the release how blood and platelet donation can help make major differences during treatment for patients.
“Many cancer patients, especially those going through chemotherapy, will have a need for blood products during treatment,” Lasky said. “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 need for blood donations in this kind of treatment is an ‘important and untold story,’ explained Howard Byck, senior vice president of corporate and sports alliances for the American Cancer Society. This collaboration hopes to show people how they can make a real impact in other’s worlds.
“The American Cancer Society is excited to be working with the Red Cross on ‘Give Blood to Give Time’,” Byck said in the release. “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.”
The Red Cross will also be testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. This test may show if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of symptoms. It may also identify antibody development even after receiving the vaccine. This will be done through July 24, according to the press release.
They will also be screening for the sickle cell trait in self-identified African American donors, according to the release, in order to give additional health insight. Results for these screenings will be available, if applicable, within one to two weeks either through the Red Cross Blood Donor App and the online donor portal.
The Red Cross asks that donors schedule appointments prior to arriving. Scheduling can be done at http://www.GiveBloodToGiveTime.org. Regarding donation sites safety protocols, fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks or socially distance themselves. Those unvaccinated must wear masks and socially distance.
Listed below are upcoming blood donation opportunities in Milwaukee:
• 6/7/2021: 12:30 p.m. – 5 p.m., Company Brewing, 735 E. Center St.
• 6/8/2021: 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., MobCraft Beer Brewery and Taproom, 505 S. 5th St.
• 6/8/2021: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., General Mitchell Airport Delta Air Lines, 5300 S. Howell Ave.
• 6/9/2021: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., City Lights Brewing Co, 2200 W. Mt. Vernon Ave.
• 6/28/2021: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Milwaukee County Zoo, 10001 W. Bluemound Rd.
• 6/29/2021: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Milwaukee County Zoo, 10001 W. Bluemound Rd.
• 6/30/2021: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Milwaukee County Zoo, 10001 W. Bluemound Rd.
• 7/1/2021: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., West Allis Rec Center, 2450 S. 68th St.