INDIANAPOLIS -- The American Red Cross needs your help as they look to replenish their blood supply. Winter storms in February caused blood drive cancellations across the country and at least three of those canceled drives were in central Indiana.
Leaders with the American Red Cross say the need for blood is constant. One Indiana family knows that all too well.
“Blood donation has been important to our family. In 2015 our youngest son, Ian, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia which is a blood cancer,” said Amy Slabaugh.
We recent shared his story and information about a blood drive in his name. More than five years later, Ian Slabaugh is still battling leukemia.
“Each week at least once or twice he does get blood products in blood and platelets and those are things that he needs so that we can continue on in treatment,” said Amy Slabaugh.
All of that blood product comes from donors.
“It is kind of a surreal thing to sit and watch someone get that blood knowing that someone that you don't even know probably spent a half hour of their day to give that,” said Amy Slabaugh.”
Leaders with the American Red Cross say each time you donate blood, it is separated into three parts and is enough to three lives, so here in central Indiana, the cancellation of blood drives due to weather left them 15,000 doses short.
That blood product is especially needed now as well. Leaders with the American Red Cross say the demand at hospitals has increased about 5% since the pandemic began.
They say donating blood is a great way to help others and they’re asking you to sign up to donate.
“People still want to donate, they still want to help out. I think there's a feeling of, just among everybody, I want to do something. What can I do in this pandemic? Donating blood is something you can do,” said Lance White, American Red Cross Donor Recruitment Manager for Central Indiana.
“It is not just for us, I mean if you're in an emergency situation, emergency surgery, you know if you happen to be in an accident, which would be horrible, but you know you're going to assume that the blood is there and everything you need it's going to be ready,” said Slabaugh.
“What we would like to do is avoid a situation where we are, sometimes you’ll see these urgent need appeals, critical need appeals that we send out, what that means when we do those is that there’s about a three day supply left of blood to send to hospitals and that means the situation is dangerously low, so we want to avoid that,” said White.
He said you can still donate blood if you have had or think you may have had COVID-19. Right now they are testing donations for the COVID-19 antibodies. Those who have them may be asked to come back and convalescent plasma, which is used to help treat COVID-19 patients.
If you’d like to sign up to donate, visit the American Red Cross’ website to find a blood drive near you.