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Recovered from COVID-19? Blood and convalescent plasma donations urgently needed

The Red Cross and NFL are teaming up during National Blood Donor Month to urge individuals to give blood and tackle the convalescent plasma shortage.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Every 2 seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. It's essential for surgeries, cancer treatment, chronic illnesses, and traumatic injuries. Whether a patient receives whole blood, red cells, platelets or plasma, this lifesaving care starts with one person making a generous donation.

According to the American Red Cross, there's a national convalescent plasma shortage. This potentially lifesaving blood product is needed to help millions of people in hospitals battling COVID-19.

The Red Cross and the National Football League are teaming up this January, during National Blood Donor Month, to urge individuals – especially those who have recovered from COVID-19 – to give blood and to help tackle the convalescent plasma shortage. Right now, more donors are needed to help hospital patients.

“Blood and plasma donors who have recovered from COVID-19 may have the power to help critically ill patients currently battling the virus,” said Dr. Erin Goodhue, Red Cross medical director of clinical services. “With hospital distributions for convalescent plasma increasing about 250% since October, these generous donations are vital in helping to save lives throughout the winter – a time that is often challenging to collect enough blood products for those in need.”

The Red Cross and NFL are offering an incentive for all people who choose to donate blood or platelets in January. Donors will be automatically entered to win two tickets to next year’s Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. In addition, those who come to give January 1-20, will also be automatically entered to win the Big Game at Home package for an awesome viewing experience safely at home, with a 65-inch television and a $500 gift card.

The Red Cross is following CDC guidelines to ensure all staff, volunteers, and donors are safe at blood drives. That includes cleaning and disinfecting frequently, use of face coverings, temperature checks, and more. The purpose is to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

"We are going to make sure you do not have a temperature before you enter the blood drive,” said Angela Powley, Chief Executive Officer of the Western North Carolina Region for the Red Cross. “Then, we are going to check you in, go through some health history questions, and take your donation. After your donation, you will stay and have a snack before you leave. It is really a simple and easy process.”

There are two ways COVID-19 survivors can help – through a convalescent plasma donation or by simply giving blood. The Red Cross is collecting convalescent plasma at more than 170 locations across the country. The organization is also antibody testing all blood donations collected at blood drives– making every blood or convalescent plasma donation an opportunity to help COVID-19 patients.

To be eligible to give convalescent plasma, you must've had a prior diagnosis of COVID-19. But, before donating, you must be symptom-free and fully recovered from the virus - and at least 14 days from last date of symptoms. 

Individuals can schedule an appointment to give blood today by visiting the Red Cross website, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or activating the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.

To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, individuals who do not feel well or who believe they may be ill with COVID-19 should postpone their donation.