Red Cross pushes for more blood donors during World Blood Donor month

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 11:19 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Although January is coming to an end, the Red Cross has been busy all month long.

January is World Blood Donor month.

This is a way for them to ramp up blood donations after slow holiday seasons.

“That’s what this month is all about is hoping more people join us at our drives across the state,” Jonathan McNamara, regional communications director for the Virginia Red Cross said.

He said the Red Cross saw about a 20% reduction in blood drives across the state and country.

Blood donations given in the Valley help patients at Sentara RMH, Augusta Health and UVA Hospital.

″A mother with complications from childbirth, somebody in a trauma situation, there’s no substitute for that blood donor who makes that donation and allows doctors and nurses to do what they do which is save lives,” he said.

The Red Cross has provided incentives all month like T-shirts, giveaways and football tickets to encourage people to give blood.

A Red Cross blood drive will take place at the Bridgewater Community Center on Feb 6.

″Fill out those health screening questions prior to attending the drive that’s going to reduce the amount of time that you’re at the drive and save you some time as well as allow you to check some of those eligibility questions,” he said.

In other Red Cross news, on Friday the FDA proposed individual risk assessment for blood donations.

The American Red Cross put out a statement today stating:

“The American Red Cross is committed to achieving an inclusive blood donation process that treats all potential donors with equality and respect, and ensures a safe, sufficient blood supply is readily available for patients in need.

We have received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s draft guidance regarding assessing risk for HIV and blood donations from gay and bisexual men. The Red Cross is pleased the FDA has proposed to determine blood donor-eligibility using a gender-inclusive, individual risk-based assessment regardless of sexual orientation. We are currently reviewing the updated guidance to fully understand its impact to our screening processes and how we will implement the changes once final guidance is issued.

The Red Cross is committed to making these eligibility changes as quickly as possible however, development of a new industry health history questionnaire and implementation of the guidance requires coordination with multiple organizations including the FDA and the AABB. We will have more information on this timeline in the weeks ahead.

The Red Cross has worked for many years to change the deferral policy concerning men who have sex with men (MSM) – this work included decades of data collection and assessment on the impact to transfusion safety, ongoing advocacy to eliminate donor questions based on sexual orientation, and our recent role as a leading contributor in the FDA-funded ADVANCE Study. There is more work to be done and we will continue to provide data to the FDA in support of further progress.

The Red Cross also recognizes the hurt this policy has caused and that these are just the first steps in repairing relationships with the broader LGBTQ community.

The FDA process will allow 60 days for public comment on this draft guidance, and we encourage individuals to share their feedback during this period.”

McNamara said the more diverse a set of donors is the better the blood supply can help the community.

To find a location to give blood near you visit the Red Cross’s website.