The American Red Cross is urging eligible donors to give blood or platelets now and into the new year.

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. 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. 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 times 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 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 through January 7 will receive a long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities:

  • 12/26/2017: 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, 1721 W. Canal St.
  • 12/26/2017: 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, 1721 W. Canal St.
  • 12/28/2017: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Layton Grove Garden Apartments, 2230 W. Layton Ave.
  • 1/4/2018: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., School Sisters of St. Francis Milwaukee, 1515 S. Layton Blvd.
  • 1/16/2018: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Schlitz Park Office Building, 1555 N. River Center Drive
  • 1/19/2018: 2 p.m. – 6 p.m., Loving Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church, 3909 W. Clinton Ave.

Potawatomi Hotel and Casino

Layton Grove Garden Apartments

School Sisters of St. Francis Milwaukee

Schlitz Park Office Building

Loving Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church

© Photo

Andrew Yates / American Red Cross