PORTLAND, Maine — March is Red Cross Month. Early 2022 marked the lowest year for blood supplies in the U.S., with the Red Cross reporting a blood crisis and a 10 percent decline in donations, resulting in an all-time low supply.
Changes in how people work, live, and play since the start of the pandemic created lasting challenges to maintaining an adequate blood supply. Although the supplies have stabilized since then, there's still a constant need for blood donations.
"Blood is a perishable product. It can't be easily manufactured. We're just not there yet. We really do need volunteer donors to continue to roll up their sleeves and give," Steve Thomas, executive director of the Southern Maine Chapter of the American Red Cross of Northern New England, said.
That is why NEWS CENTER Maine is once again joining forces with the Red Cross to help our fellow Mainers in need.
We are asking our viewers to help their neighbors by donating blood on March 22. With the simple act of donating blood or platelets, eligible donors can help save up to three lives with one donation. All blood types are needed, especially types O positive and O negative.
More than 20 years ago, as a college senior, Michelle Tussing was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer. She returned home to begin a rigorous nine months of treatment that included surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. When the chemo destroyed her red blood cells and platelets faster than her body could replace them, she relied on blood donors in her community to continue her fight against cancer.
"One of the impacts that chemotherapy has on your blood is that it damages the fast-growing cells, which means the cancer cells, but it also can destroy your blood cells faster than your body can replace them so in my case when I was in treatment, at one point I was in the hospital for about six weeks and during that time needed multiple transfusions of packed red cells and platelets just to replenish what my body couldn't replenish on its own," Tussing said.
Today, Tussing is a mother of three, and forever grateful to those who, by giving blood, gave her the gift of life. Blood donation is very personal for her.
"One of my clearest memories from that time was sitting in the hospital room and I was watching television, and I looked up on the screen and I saw a call for a blood drive, and it was this appeal to the community to be there for patients and donate blood and I was that patient behind that blood drive, and it brought tears to my eyes and just being overwhelmed in the sense of gratitude that literally when I wasn't strong enough it was these people, many who I had never met, who rolled up their sleeves and provide that strength so that I could heal and get better," Tussing added.
Here's how to register:
1) Go to RedCrossBlood.org.
2) Click on DONATE BLOOD then FIND A BLOOD DRIVE.
3) Enter sponsor code: NEWSCENTERMAINE.
4) Choose your donation site and time.
The need for blood is constant. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
FYI: It only takes about an hour—from start to finish—to donate blood, and only about eight to 10 minutes of that is actually donating blood.
Join NEWS CENTER Maine on March 22 and turn your compassion into action. Help us ensure that blood is always available whenever and wherever it is needed.