You Can Save Three Lives, in Eight Minutes

It’s as easy as contacting the Red Cross

By Mary Beth Roach

It takes eight minutes to save three lives.

This is the length of time it takes to donate blood at one of the area American Red Cross drives. 

That blood can, in turn, save three lives, according to Lisa Smith, the executive director of the Central and Northern New York Chapter of the American Red Cross.

There have been numerous blood drives held in July and the response has been good. Several blood drives are scheduled for August throughout Central New York. To check a site near you, go to www.redcross.org and click on “Give Blood” tab.

“The blood drives are doing well. We have a very committed community here,” she said.

Yet, the need is still great. The organization nationwide needs an extra 1,000 units every day, in addition to the average 12,000 to 12,500 units that are donated daily through the country, she pointed out.

Several factors are triggering this urgent need.

Surgeries that had been cancelled during the pandemic are being rescheduled, people are out and about more and the country has seen some of the worst disasters in years.

“Last year was worse than we’ve had in years — the wildfires, the hurricanes, the flooding, the tornadoes. We’re headed into another season that is projected as being as severe,” she said.

And the Red Cross needs to remain prepared.

If the local Red Cross can meet its goals now, she said, their supply will carry them through the remainder of the summer. While there is always a need, the urgency is now, she said.

The process for signing up to donate blood is easy and much of the preliminary paperwork can be done online, shortening the time one is actually at the donation site. Visit www.redcross.org and click on “Donate blood.” A dropdown menu will appear, from which you can find a convenient location and fill out an electronic RapidPass registration form, which will save you some time at the donation site. There is also a lot more information on the menu about the process and the benefits of donating.

While much of the blood stays within the eight counties served by the local chapter, it will be shipped to other locations to meet the demand, especially if specific matches are needed.

“There are no boundaries,” Smith said. “We don’t want there to be. We need other communities to help us just as we help them.”

In addition to donating blood, there is also a need for volunteers to assist the Red Cross in its work, whether it’s in disaster relief; the biomedical area; or in blood drives, from greeting donors to helping them afterward to driving the blood to the processing centers and to hospitals.

With the New York State Fair returning this year, the Red Cross will need at least 700 volunteers to help not only with a blood drive inside the Fairgrounds, but also at a nearby parking lot it will operate for the entire 18-day run. Crucible Steel donates the lot to the agency, which then charges fairgoers a fee to park. All proceeds support the mission and services of the Red Cross, Smith said.

Photo: Lisa Smith, the executive director of the Central and Northern New York Chapter of the American Red Cross