Red Cross urges blood donations

Nov. 2, 2012 at 5:26 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- The American Red Cross said more than 360 U.S. blood drives were canceled due to Hurricane Sandy and asked those not affected by the storm to give blood.

The postponed blood drives this week represents a loss of as many as 12,000 blood and platelet products, the Red Cross said.

"People who are eligible, especially in places not affected by the storm, are asked to schedule a donation appointment in the days and weeks to come," the Red Cross said on its website. "To schedule a donation time or get more information about giving blood, people can visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS, or 1-800-733-2767."

Red Cross officials said platelet donations -- used for those undergoing chemotherapy and organ transplants and have weakened immune systems -- are especially needed.

A platelet dose from a single donor reduces the patient's exposure to multiple donors and is therefore preferred by many physicians.

"During a platelet donation, a small portion of blood -- about a quarter pint at a time -- is drawn from your arm and passed through a sophisticated cell-separating machine," the Red Cross said. "The machine collects the platelets and safely returns the remaining blood components, along with some saline, back to you. After the donation you can resume your normal activities, avoiding heavy lifting or strenuous exercise that day."

One platelet donation can be worth from 12 to 18 whole blood donations, the Red Cross said.

However, platelet donations are only collected at select American Red Cross Blood Donation Centers and can take longer than a whole blood donation. The platelet donation takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours and may be a single or dual arm procedure depending on the collection device used.

Platelet donors shouldn't take aspirin or products containing aspirin 48 hours before donation -- in New York three days prior.

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