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American Red Cross partners with NFL to tackle nationwide plasma shortage

Drawing for Super Bowl tickets, 65″ TV offered as incentives
Published: Jan. 6, 2021 at 6:05 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - January is National Blood Donor Month, and the need for blood, platelet and plasma donations is always great -- with plasma supplies being especially hard-hit during the pandemic.

“It’s a little bit of a longer process than a regular blood donation, but in about 2 hours, you could help save several lives,” explains Christy Peters, regional communications manager for American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region. “Right now, the American Red Cross actually has a shortage of convalescent plasma. Unfortunately, we’ve seen cases rise across the country for several months now, and that means demand for convalescent plasma has gone up.”

The Red Cross has seen a 250% increase in plasma distributions since October -- and demand is far outpacing the supply of recovered patients willing to donate.

”Their plasma contains antibodies that can be given to patients who are currently fighting COVID-19,” says Peters. “Unfortunately, because it’s something that can only come from someone who has recovered from COVID-19, that group of donors is small.”

That’s where the incentive comes in -- going from “sleeves up” to “laces out”. The American Red Cross has partnered with the NFL to create a big incentive for potential donors: “Right now, if you come to give in the month of January, you’ll be entered to win two tickets to next year’s Super Bowl,” Peters explains. “You will also be entered January 1st-20th for a “Big Game at Home” package that includes a 65″ TV, $500 for you to have a party, food or fun!”

Peters says the response they have generated so far has been enthusiastic: “We’ve seen so many survivors of COVID-19 come forward and say, ‘I’m so thankful that I was able to recover and I’m doing well, and I want to help.’ It really is unique to those individuals, and we really need them specifically.”

Plasma and other blood components are the key to helping recovery in different areas. Red blood cells are frequently used in emergencies, while platelets help cancer patients and burn victims.

”You have the opportunity to help up to three people because it can be separated out,” says Peters, “and with the convalescent plasma donations for COVID-19, you have the opportunity to help several patients as well with one donation. You’re really touching more than one life, and you really are making a huge difference for someone who is in the hospital right now fighting a disease, who’s been in an accident. Those products are needed every single day -- and that doesn’t stop for pandemics, or for the holidays, or anything else that’s going on.”

Toledo’s American Red Cross donation office is located at 3510 Executive Parkway. To sign up for a donation, visit RedCrossBlood.org/Plasma4Covid.

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