Red Cross in Need of Blood Donations

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PLEASANTVILLE, N.J. -

Have you ever heard of an alternative to blood or maybe about a local blood manufacturer? If you answered 'no,' well, that’s simply because they don’t exist.

“There’s no substitution for blood; it can’t be manufactured," said Alana Mauger, external communications manager for Central and Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware American Red Cross. "So the only way that patients have access to blood, and platelets and plasma is through the generosity of volunteer blood donors.”

With a constant need for blood donations, officials with the American Red Cross are using the month of January, which is National Blood Donation Month, as a way to remind everyone of the importance of giving.

According to studies, one out of every 10 people entering a hospital needs blood, but experts say collecting blood during the winter is especially challenging.

“Summer and winter are the two really rough times, and [in] January things always really slow down," said Mauger. "After the holiday, we can expect inclement weather. We really haven’t had too much yet, but we can expect it.

"And we are also dealing with cold and flu season. So all of those things kind of all add up together to create a challenging thing for blood collection.”

Which is why American Red Cross officials are asking for help.

“Interestingly, the number one reason people site for not giving blood is because no one has asked them to," said Mauger. "So we like to say to people, ‘OK, now we’re asking you.’”

Representatives with the Red Cross are actually responsible for 40 percent of the nation's blood supply, but their studies show that only 10 percent of eligible donors donate annually.

“I have a rare blood type and they call me all the time," said Michele Starks, a long-time donor. "So, it’s no big deal. It’s the least you can do.”

And, of course, there are incentives alongside saving at least three lives per donation.

“We’re so excited that this January that Dunkin' in Greater Philadelphia is once again partnering with the Red Cross," said Mauger, "so that all donors that come out to give blood or platelets in the month of January will get a voucher for a free hot coffee and a free classic doughnut courtesy of Dunkin' in [the] Greater Philadelphia area.” 

It's as simple as calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or going to redcrossblood.org and typing in a zip code to find the closest blood drive.

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