Contributed by Angelina DiBacco and Ciara DiVita, American Red Cross
Imagine a World without the letters A, B and O? H_w w_uld y_u get _y? Let’s try that again… How would you get by? That’s what the American Red Cross is encouraging the public to think about this summer. If the letters A, B and O – the main blood types- go missing, how will hospital patients in need receive much-needed blood products
On Wednesday, June 13, Red Cross hosted an event in Farmington, Connecticut to raise awareness about the need for blood donors to ensure lifesaving blood is available for hospital patients in need every day. This campaign is asking iconic corporate and civic brands, celebrities and influencers, to remove the A, B, and O –from signage, websites and other platforms, to illustrate the critical role that every blood donor plays. Removing the A, B and O from these platforms represents the blood types missing from hospital shelves, which drastically impacts patient care.
The goal of the campaign is to inspire new and former blood donors to give blood this summer and become regular donors for patients in need. Charles Buder, a volunteer blood donor who has donated more than 30 gallons of blood said, “Blood is medicine that you can’t make, it comes from us. If there’s no donors, there’s no blood.” On average, giving blood doesn’t just save one potential life – every whole blood donation can help up to three people. Since this campaign began, we have seen tremendous support in both traditional and social media. Companies from Subway – to IBM – to Google have been dropping letters, hosting blood drives, or sharing our messaging on social media. Dr. Fay West, Red Cross Medical Director said, “There is still a lot more work to do. In the last four years, we have seen new donors decrease by about 80,000. That’s a trend that cannot continue. Blood is a crucial product that can’t be made in a lab.”
The need for blood is constant. Every two seconds someone in the U.S.needs blood. A recent survey, conducted on behalf of the Red Cross, showed that nearly half of the public (45 percent) know someone who has been helped by a blood transfusion. Yet only three percent of the U.S. population donates each year.
When asked about the influence behind the Missing Types campaign, Paul Sullivan, Vice President of Collections, American Red Cross said, “The idea behind it is to grab people’s attention. Taking the A’s, B’s and O’s out of anything, whether it’s logos or names that we commonly see, it’s shocking. Therefore, it grabs your attention and it’s easy to think about. It really is true, without A, B and O donors we would be nowhere in terms of trying to help patients.” During the event, Sullivan donated what’s referred to as a “Power Red” donation.
Power Red allows you to safely donate two units of red cells during one appointment as an automated donation process. It is as safe as whole blood donation. If you are blood types O, A negative or B negative, Power Red may be ideal for you. Each procedure lets you give more of the product that is needed most by patients. Power Red (double red cell donation) takes approximately 30 minutes longer than a whole blood donation and you can donate approximately every four months.
Guest speaker, Charles “Buddy” Buder, spoke to the attendees about his personal experience as a blood donor. “In November 1968, I got injured playing football. I was in intensive care for a couple of days and I remember glancing over at the gentleman in the bed next to me who was receiving blood. He unfortunately ended up passing that very next day. I thought to myself, here I am at 17, feeling like the world owes me everything, and I thought, if I ever get out of here, I’ll be a blood donor. I didn’t do it religiously, but then in 1972 I started to go every 56 days, now I’m a double red donor and I’ve donated more than 30 gallons of blood since then.”
Today, about 40 national partners and more than 500 local partners across the country have joined the Red Cross in this effort. In addition, approximately two dozen countries worldwide are also participating in the Missing Types campaign to help raise awareness. National Red Cross partners include Google, Domino’s, Mastercard and State Farm, to name a few. Participating countries include Australia, Canada, China, France, Japan and South Africa.
It doesn’t take much to donate blood. You have to be at least 17 years old, in good health, and weigh over 110 pounds. We urge everyone here to join the #MissingType movement and help ensure no patient has to experience life without A, B and O. Without A, B and O we can’t save anybody. For those who have never donated before, or who haven’t rolled up a sleeve in a few years, the campaign message is clear: You are the missing type. And patients need you.