Red Cross Faces Challenges in Blood Donations

Contributed by: ELENA KILGORE

OSWEGO, NY – Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood.

Yet, less than 10 percent of eligible blood donors actually donate, according to the American Red Cross.

The American Red Cross is constantly faced with challenges in receiving donations.

The major challenge is getting community members to donate and continue to do so.

Catherine Topple, community liaison/major gift officer of the Central New York American Red Cross Chapter, said she works through these challenges with “networking and persistence.”

More than 30,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the United States.

The Red Cross is responsible for 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply, providing blood to patients in more than 2,600 hospitals across the country.

Patty Corvaia, another employee of the Central New York Chapter of the Red Cross, explained why blood donations are needed in such high demand in a recent interview.

Corvaia said that donated blood is used for a variety of different reasons and is perishable.

Just one car accident victim may need up to 100 units of blood.

Other patients who require the use of blood donations include burn victims, heart surgery patients, organ transplant recipients and those undergoing cancer treatment and/or chemotherapy.

As an employee of the Red Cross, Corvaia works to educate the community on the importance of donation. She works with the chapter’s media partners to alert them of upcoming drives, cancellations, and urgent need for donations.

The Red Cross employs staff that regularly updates and alerts donors.

They also have an app that donors can use to schedule their next appointment.

Madelyn Rossi, 19, was employed as an intern by the Red Cross in 2015.

She helped organize multiple blood drives in the Buffalo area. She and another high school student were vital in the planning and execution of blood drives at several locations, including the Elks Lodge and Lancaster Central High School.

“These drives allow people throughout the community to come and donate their blood to either someone who is in critical need of blood in the area, or to use for research,” Rossi said.

Rossi toldl donors how critical the need for blood is and how they could help.

She said she was told to “encourage (donors) to tell their friends and families to donate because of the extreme blood shortages and also because only a small amount of people in the world donate blood.”

“Volunteering with the Red Cross has encouraged me to try to donate blood as much as possible because I now know that the need is constant and the act can save multiple lives,” Rossi explained.

Ethan Bruening, 19, is an avid blood donor who often gives “power red.”

This is similar to normal blood donation but takes out two units of red blood cells.

This can be done safely because only the red blood cells are collected.

A machine sorts the blood during the donation and returns the rest of the blood to the donor.

This method is not as popular, because it takes longer than a traditional donation, which is between eight to 10 minutes.

Bruening first heard about power red donations while running a local blood drive at his high school in 2015.

“When I went in they emphasized how important power red is to them because they don’t get it all the time,” he said.

After being at first hesitant to try this method of donation, Bruening came out of this experience feeling great.

“You actually come out of it feeling better because they put saline solution back to hydrate you,” he added.

In a recent interview, Corvaia described her work as rewarding and humbling.

“It’s so rewarding to know that my work helps people who are experiencing a very difficult moment in their lives,” she said. “But I am humbled when I meet our volunteers, donors as well as the patients we serve.”

Corvaia said that the patients the Red Cross serve “truly inspire” her every day.