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Red Cross seeks blood donations, honors Black doctors’ contributions

By Genelle Pugmire - | Feb 6, 2023

Courtesy Intellectual Reserve

An American Red Cross employee registers a blood donor in a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Fenton, Missouri, on March 3, 2021.

The American Red Cross of Utah is asking residents to take time in February — Black History Month — to donate blood.

“We’re teaming up with civic organizations, church groups, and community and political leaders to encourage blood donation this month, especially from the Black community,” said Benjamin Donner, executive director of the American Red Cross Central and Southern Utah Chapter.

As part of the monthly celebration, the organization is spotlighting the notable accomplishments of African Americans such as Charles Drew and Jerome Holland, two doctors who it says made important, life-saving contributions to the Red Cross and those who depend on blood transfusions.

According to Donner, blood transfusions remain one of the most critical treatments for patients with chronic illnesses, such as sickle cell disease. “One in three African Americans are a match for people with sickle cell disease, making them especially significant blood donors,” he said.

Drew, an African American surgeon, was the medical director of the first Red Cross blood bank in 1941. Drew’s research about storage and shipment of blood plasma proved that blood could be stored for transfusions. Many of the processes he developed are still in use today.

Holland was the first African American chair of the Red Cross board of governors in 1979. According to the Red Cross, his commitment to providing the safest possible blood products for patients in need helped inform many safeguards the organization still has in place today, not only to protect patients, but also blood donors.

The Red Cross is urging Utahns to honor the legacies of these doctors by donating blood or volunteering.

Residents are encouraged to schedule a blood donation appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Donors can give blood or platelets to prevent a shortage in the weeks ahead. Residents can also volunteer as a Blood Donor Ambassador at Red Cross blood drives helping greet, check-in and support blood donors. For more information or to apply, contact Bonnie Cook at 702-268-3207 or bonnie.cook@redcross.org, or visit RedCross.org/volunteertoday.

Those who come to give blood, platelets or plasma to the Red Cross in February will receive a $10 gift card to Amazon.com via email and be automatically entered for a chance to win a trip for two to Clearwater Beach, Florida, including a three-night hotel stay, round-trip airfare, a $750 gift card and more. Details are available at rcblood.org/heart.


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