This June, the Red Cross, and the American Cancer Society have teamed up to encourage people across the country to Give Blood to Give Time. Together, we can all do our part to help ensure loved ones have the strength and support they need as they undergo cancer treatment.
Currently, 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.
According to the American Cancer Society, many patient visits and procedures were forced to be delayed or canceled early in the pandemic to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. As scheduling gets back to normal, blood products will be critical for people going through cancer treatments.
Patients fighting cancer use nearly one-quarter of the nation’s blood supply – more than patients fighting any other disease. And, there simply aren’t enough people donating regularly to meet the ongoing need.
According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 3 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. 1.9 million new cases are expected to be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2021. In Utah, there will be an estimated 12,750 new cancer cases diagnosed in 2021.
Many of these people, especially those undergoing chemotherapy, will likely have a need for blood products. In fact, 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. We need more people to donate regularly to help meet the need.
Right now, platelet donations are being distributed to hospitals faster than they come in. Platelets, the clotting component of blood primarily given to cancer patients during treatment, must be transfused within five days of donation and, therefore, cannot be stockpiled.
Low platelet count can be a major side effect of cancer treatment. Some types of chemotherapy can damage bone marrow, reducing the body’s ability to make platelets. Other times, cancer itself causes the need for platelets. For example, leukemia and lymphoma can invade the bone marrow and prevent the patient’s body from producing the platelets it needs. Without a platelet transfusion, cancer patients may not be able to receive the treatments they need, or treatments may be delayed.
Over the last year, the Red Cross has collected over 1 million units of platelets, and nearly half of those have been provided to patients undergoing cancer treatment. More platelet donors are needed to continue to meet these needs.
The award-winning Red Cross Blood Donor App makes it easy and convenient for donors to schedule and manage their donation appointments, track their donations’ lifetime impact, and recruit others to donate.
- Donors can access their donor card through the Blood Donor App and use it as their official form of identification at donation appointments.
- Blood donors with the Blood Donor App can view their health history information, including blood pressure, hemoglobin levels, and pulse rate, on the donor card within the app.
- Download the free app by texting “BLOODAPP” to 90999 or searching “American Red Cross.”
Give Blood to Give Time is a meaningful way to honor someone you love who is facing or has faced cancer. To schedule a blood or platelet donation appointment, visit their website.