American Red Cross Has Enhanced Website, Four Ways to Give

May 09, 2018

The American Red Cross has launched a new version of its website, redcrossblood.org, that will make it easier for donors to schedule and manage blood donation appointments by logging on from a smart phone, tablet or desktop computer.

The updated site features one-click navigation to quickly book an appointment, manage an existing appointment, view donation history and more. It starts by entering a ZIP code, then select a donation event by date or proximity, choose an appointment time, and sign in or create an account.

To optimize impact based on blood type, a new section of recommendations helps donors give in the ways they’re most needed.

First-timers and long-standing donors alike can benefit from the ease of finding a convenient location at their fingertips and even complete the pre-donation paperwork ahead of time.

There are four ways to donate:

Give whole blood, which is the most flexible kind of donation, for all blood types, and beneficial mainly to trauma and surgery patients.

Or give a “power red” donation, which is a concentrated dose of red cells separated out before plasma and platelets are returned to the donor. The red blood cell concentration is typically used for trauma patients, newborns and emergency transfusions during birth, people with sickle cell anemia, and anyone suffering blood loss. It takes a little bit longer, about an hour and a half, and is recommended for blood types O +/-, A- and B-.

Another option is to donate platelets – cells that form clots and stop bleeding – which are useful for cancer patients, organ transplant recipients and others facing life-threatening illnesses and injuries. For a platelet donation, an apheresis machine collects platelets and some plasma, then returns red cells and most of the plasma back to the donor. A single donation of platelets can yield several transfusable units, whereas it takes about five whole blood donations to make up a single transfusable unit of platelets. This process, which can take two and half to three hours, is ideally for blood types A+/-, B+, O+, AB+/-, and is performed only at Red Cross donation centers, not at blood drives.

Donors of blood types AB +/- might decide to give an “AB elite” plasma donation, which can help anyone in an emergency situation, regardless of blood type. An automated process separates out the plasma and returns red blood cells and platelets to the donor. Plasma collection is done only at select Red Cross donation centers.  —V.F.

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