If you’re feeling a bit patriotic heading into the Fourth of July weekend, there’s something you can do for your country and for your fellow citizens. It doesn’t matter what your political leanings are or how much money you make — this is a donation almost anyone can provide. Give the gift of life and donate blood.
The need for blood donors has scarcely been greater. Summer typically sees a decrease in donors as people are more likely to travel and enjoy outdoor recreation. This year, on the heels of the global pandemic that taxed the blood supply, the need continues to grow as blood suppliers cite “critically low inventories.”
COVID-19 has affected the blood supply in myriad ways. Organizational blood drives were diminished during the pandemic, contributing to the low supply. For months, elective surgeries were put off, and now that things have opened up and vaccination levels have increased, those surgery dockets are filling up. Busier hospitals mean an increased need for blood.
Anyone who is at least 16 (or 17, depending on the state), is in good health and weighs at least 110 pounds is eligible to donate blood. And many donors are needed. Blood can’t be stored away for future need; it’s perishable and places like the Red Cross need to keep bringing in donors to replenish the supply. Most blood types are needed, especially Type O-negative, Type O-positive, Type A-positive and Type AB-negative, as are platelets from all blood types. And yes — you can donate even if you have been recently vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Red Cross, responsible for supplying 40% of the nation’s blood supply, has distributed about 75,000 more blood products than expected during the past three months.
It’s become an expectation of living in the United States: We are first world. If someone has a health issue and needs blood, blood will be available.
It doesn’t magically happen, though. It takes someone like you, giving up some of your time in order to help others — just as you would want others to do in your time of need.
As we salute the red, white and blue this weekend, let’s all make one small sacrifice for our fellow Americans and commit to giving blood sometime soon.