The American Red Cross is facing an emergency blood shortage following a difficult Fourth of July week for blood and platelet donations and ongoing challenges finding new blood donors. Blood donors are needed now to help avoid delays in lifesaving medical care for patients this summer.
One Great Falls blood donor did not need prompting by the Red Cross to donate blood. Gentry Young donates platelets once or twice a month and whole blood twice a year. She has given a little more than four gallons to the Red Cross so far and has made it her personal mission to ensure car accident victims get the medical treatment they need.
“I donate back in a sense to repay a debt,” said Young.
In 2008, when Young was only 20 years old, she was on her way home from Bozeman when she was involved in a three-car crash and was severely injured. Young’s neck was broken, her face disfigured and her left arm mangled. Responders used the Jaws of Life to pry her from her vehicle before an ambulance rushed her to the emergency room. Due to the severity of her injuries, Young was airlifted to a Great Falls’ hospital. Doctors decided her best hope for recovery was to be flown to a Seattle hospital for treatment.
Young estimates that she received at least nine units of blood.
She still bears the wounds of her horrific crash 11 years later. She has epileptic seizures that make it difficult for her to return to college or hold a job and can’t raise her left arm completely.
Nevertheless, she doesn’t take anything for granted.
“Just the fact that I can use my left arm at all reminds me to be so grateful of all the people who donated that blood,” Young said.
Donors of all blood blood types, especially type O, are urged to make an appointment to donate using the Blood Donor App, at RedCrossBlood.org or by calling 1-800 RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to donate.
Those interested in hosting a blood drive can learn more and sign up to sponsor a drive this summer by visiting RedCrossBlood.org/HostADrive
How to donate blood
A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.