I learned I was Anemic and Could Not Donate Blood, but I Urge Others to

Sherri Matthews

Sherri Matthews recently learned at a Hammonton, NJ Blood Drive that she is anemic and can not donate blood. Motivated by the current Red Cross blood emergency, she is urging others to donate.

I had heard about the #MissingType blood donation campaign by the American Red Cross, which brings awareness to how vital blood donations are for saving lives and treating illnesses. For example, something I learned is that every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood.

The Missing Types campaign motivated me to go online to Redcrossblood.org to schedule an appointment to donate.  As I was making my appointment, I remembered that I had received a donor card from a previous donation.  As it turns out, my blood type is one of the “missing types” – A, B, & O. I was relieved to know my blood type will be helpful in fulfilling this great mission.

As I drove up to the donation site in Hammonton on JuIy 9, I must admit, I was a little nervous. It had been a long time since I gave blood. Once I walked inside, I felt at ease knowing that my donation could potentially save up to three lives. The surroundings were comforting and the Red Cross staff was accommodating, so my nervousness quickly melted away.

Once I was called by one of the intake nurses, I was excited to begin the process of giving blood. The nurse pricked my finger to test for anemia and unfortunately my blood levels were too low for me to donate. I learned that I am anemic. My heart sunk. I was disappointed for two reasons: One, because I could not donate blood and two, because it seemed like there was a low donor turnout. I was really hoping to help increase the number of donors on that day.

Something was missing. Actually someone was missing – it was YOU! The Red Cross is in dire need of blood during this time of year and donor participation is rather low. I understand that it is summertime, and people’s minds are on vacations and traveling. In addition, its summer break, so blood drives at high schools and colleges are not happening.  I recently learned from the Red Cross that those drives account for 20 percent of donations throughout the school year.

During the last two weeks, I’ve been seeing more social media posts about the #BloodEmergency the Red Cross is experiencing. It was a tough Fourth of July holiday week for donations. Donors were less available to give, and the Red Cross says more than 550 fewer blood drives were held compared to an average week as people celebrated the holiday. Right now, donations are being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in.

I can’t donate, but I urge you to do so. As you go about your daily routine, please take 5 – 10 minutes to go to Redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS to schedule an appointment. Blood drives and Red Cross blood donation centers are conveniently located throughout the state. The process is quick and easy! I get how busy life can be, so if you want to speed up the donation process you can complete a RapidPass online health history questionnaire or do so through the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

If you are a first-time donor, rest assured the experience is relaxing, the staff is personable and they handle you with care. Before you know it, you’re finished and your blood is on its way to save a life.

Remember, we cannot survive without BLOOD.
Various illnesses cannot be treated without BLOOD.
We cannot spell BL__D without the letter “O.”

Are you the #MISSINGTYPE? Please donate blood.

By Sherri Matthews, a resident of Pine Hill, New Jersey and volunteer with the American Red Cross New Jersey Region.

Missing Types 2018_Social graphic_Expect



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