The American Red Cross is hosting a blood drive during Black History Month in honor of Dr. Charles Drew and Dr. Jerome Holland.
Drew was the first Black surgeon to create a way to store plasma in blood banks. His research on blood plasma transfusions is still being used today by the American Red Cross.
Holland was the first Black chairman on the American Red Cross Board of Governors and a leader of its blood services program.
Tiffany Taylor, regional communications manager for American Red Cross, has been working with the organization for over five years and said it is important to host blood drives in dedication of Black History Month.
“We should always first remember where we come from to appreciate where we are going,” Taylor said. “If it weren’t for the inventions of African Americans, we wouldn’t be able to help save lives the way we do today.”
Taylor said there is a constant need for blood donors.
“We want to honor Black pioneers and also other Black figures within the American Red Cross community,” Taylor said. “I am Black myself — everyday is Black History month for me.”
According to the American Red Cross' website, the blood drive will give donors the satisfaction of helping someone in need by giving blood, platelets or plasma. The American Red Cross also welcomes COVID-19 survivors to donate because the antibodies in their plasma could potentially save the life of a COVID-19 patient.
Black people are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and experience more chronic diseases that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19 complications. Donating blood can help Black communities suffering with chronic diseases such as sickle cell anemia.
The Red Cross said it will test all donated blood in hopes of discovering COVID-19 antibodies.
Bigger companies such as Amazon are also stepping up to help the Red Cross collect plasma to treat COVID-19 patients,according to the press release
Amazon has donated one million dollars to the organization to try and get more people to want to donate. Donors will receive a five dollar Amazon gift card during February. Amazon’s donation will also support sickle cell patients and motivate more Black communities to understand the importance of donating blood, according to a press release.
Taylor said the blood will be tested to make sure it’s safe after leaving host sites and then be sent to hospitals. If another place besides hospitals needs blood, it will be sent there.
The Red Cross allows people with all blood types to donate. You must have a Blood Donor’s card, drivers license or two other forms of identification to check in. Those who are 18 years old or younger must be at least 110 pounds or more, depending on their height.
To locally donate blood locally, visit the Bloomington Community Red Cross Blood Donation Center located at 401 North Morton St.
Taylor encourages everyone, even those who have never considered it before, to donate. She said the need for blood is constant.
“If you’ve never considered giving blood then do so now, especially during this time with the weather and blood drives having to cancel,” Taylor said. “We don’t want hospitals and medical teams to not have enough blood on hand. Just one donation can help save up to three lives.”
If you want to donate blood, either download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, schedule an appointment online, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or use an Alexa Echo device to schedule an appointment by allowing the Blood Donor Skill.