Summer is historically a season of fewer blood drives and lower donor turnout due to school breaks and travel. Although this summer is very different, the dip in blood inventory remains as hospitals resume surgical procedures and blood drive cancellations continue as businesses and community organizations remain closed. The American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood donations to prevent another blood shortage. It is important to note that starting June 15, all units of blood will be tested for the presence of antibodies to COVID 19. It is also important to note that there are changes in eligibility that will affect new and previously deferred donors. Those changes are outlined below.

Summer drives that need donor support include:

• June 23 – noon to 5:30 p.m. at Kelly Chevrolet Cadillac, 252 Pittsburgh Road, Butler.

• June 24 – 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Miller & Sons Chevrolet Buick, 3107 Green Garden Road, Aliquippa.

• June 26 – 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Preston GM Superstore, 3510 Wilmington Road, New Castle.

How to sign up to donate blood

Donors who donate during the month of June are eligible to receive a $5 Amazon Gift Card via email. Restrictions apply. Additional information and details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/Together.

Healthy individuals who are feeling well are asked to make an appointment by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Changes in requirements take effect June 8

Changes in eligibility that will affect new and previously deferred donors include:

Reduced deferral periods for transmission risks associated with the FDA HIV policy from 12 months to 3 months.

Reduced deferral periods for those with recent tattoos and piercings done in non-regulated states from 12 months to 3 months.

Change in deferral period for travel to malaria-endemic areas from 12 months to 3 months.

Simplified deferrals for individuals previously considered to have been exposed to a potential risk of transmission of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease or Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

Donors who have previously been deferred for any of the reasons above should contact Donor and Client Support Center at 1-866-236-3276 for more specific information about their donor eligibility, or to request to update their donor record prior to their summer donation. Deferral status cannot be removed or changed onsite at our blood drives, so making this call ahead of time is important.

Covid 19 antibody testing taking effect June 15

Beginning June 15, all blood, platelet and plasma donors will be tested for the presence of Covid 19 antibodies. It’s important to emphasize that this is not a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of our employees, volunteers and donors, individuals who do not feel well should continue to postpone donation. The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness.

The test we perform will provide our valued donors with insight into whether they may have been exposed to this COVID 19 virus. Red Cross donors can expect to receive the results of their antibody test within 7 to 10 days through our Red Cross Blood Donor App or on our donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org