BANGOR — The American Red Cross is urging eligible donors to give more life to patients 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 Mary Brant, external communications manager of the Red Cross Northern New England 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 Brant. “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:
— 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 3, FHC Inc., 1201 Main St., Bowdoin.
— 2-7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 3, Cherryfield Congregational Church, 12 River Road, Cherryfield.
— 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 4, Cross Insurance Center, 515 Main St., Bangor.
— 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 4, USDA Farm Service Agency, 967 Illinois Ave., Bangor.
— 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 4, Camden National Bank, 245 Commercial St., Camden.
— 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5, MaineGeneral Medical Center, 149 North St., Waterville.
— 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5, MaineGeneral Medical Center, 35 Medical Center Parkway, Augusta.
— 1-6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5, Sunday River Southridge, South Ridge Lodge, 15 South Ridge Road, Newry.
— Noon-5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5, Walgreens, 55 Paris St., Norway.
— 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6, Clinton Town Hall, 53 Railroad St., Clinton.
— 1-7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 8, Penney Memorial Church, 393 Water St., Augusta.
— 2-7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 8, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, 857 Main St., Fryeburg.
— 1-6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 8, Eastport Youth Center, 2 Staniels Road, Eastport.
— Noon-6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9, YMCA, 303 Centre St., Bath.
— Noon-5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9, American Legion, 21 Hassan Ave., Southwest Harbor.
— Noon-5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10, Gardiner Lions Club, 10 Lions Ave., Gardiner.
— 1:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, Harrington Family Health, 50 East Main St., Harrington.
— 1-6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, YMCA, 261 Townsend Ave., Route 27, Boothbay.
— 1-6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, Lithgow Public Library, 45 Winthrop St., Augusta.
— Noon-5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12, DNK Select Cars and Trucks, 530 Maine Ave., Farmingdale.
— 12:30-5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12, Masonic Hall, 361 Main St., Rockport.
— 1-6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12, Belfast United Methodist Church, 23 Mill Lane, Belfast.
— Noon-5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12, Knights of Columbus, 2 Park St., Calais.
— 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, Smitty’s Cinema, 65 Topsham Fair Road, Topsham.