Emporia High School juniors are partnering with the American Red Cross to save lives during National Blood Donor Month. 

The Class of 2022 will host a blood drive from noon - 6 p.m. Jan. 30 inside the Flinthills Mall, 1632 Industrial Rd. The drive will be held in the suite across from Hibbett Sports. 

"Donating blood is one of the simplest ways to have a big impact," said junior Orion Turner. "Especially in this time of crisis, it is so essential to aid the medical community in whatever capacity we can."

While Turner has not yet had the chance to donate himself due to age restrictions, he has heard how easy and quick the process can be. 

"I can report that it is not a super difficult or timely task," Turner said. "Our goal is to fill all 83 spots that are available to donate blood."

Blood is a perishable product that can only come from volunteer blood donors. With someone in the United States needing blood every two seconds, blood products must be constantly replenished, according to the American Red Cross. Donors with all blood types are needed — especially those with types O negative, A negative and B negative. Donors who have recovered from COVID-19 are encouraged to give and help tackle the national convalescent plasma shortage. 

Right now, more donors are needed to help hospital patients.

And, for an added incentive, the Red Cross and National Football League are offering a chance to win two tickets to next year's Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles to those who donate blood or platelets throughout January. 

In addition, those who come to give Jan. 1-20, will also be automatically entered to win the Big Game at Home package for an awesome viewing experience safely at home, with a 65-inch television and a $500 gift card to put toward food and fun. Individuals can schedule an appointment to give blood today with the American Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or activating the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.

 “Blood and plasma donors who have recovered from COVID-19 may have the power to help critically ill patients currently battling the virus,” said Dr. Erin Goodhue, Red Cross medical director of clinical services, in a written release. “With hospital distributions for convalescent plasma increasing about 250% since October, these generous donations are vital in helping to save lives throughout the winter – a time that is often challenging to collect enough blood products for those in need.”

As COVID-19 cases have risen across the U.S., so has the need for convalescent plasma — leading to a shortage of this potentially lifesaving blood product. Like “special teams” units on the field, COVID-19 survivors have a unique ability to make a game-changing difference in the lives of COVID-19 patients. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 may have antibodies in their plasma that could provide a patient’s immune system the boost it needs to beat the virus.

According to the Red Cross, there are two ways COVID-19 survivors can help — through a convalescent plasma donation or by simply giving whole blood. Plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may be used to help COVID-19 patients. Health emergencies don’t pause for holidays, game days or a pandemic — blood is needed every two seconds in the U.S. to help patients battling injury and illness. 

And, it's safe to give blood. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, individuals who do not feel well or who believe they may be ill with COVID-19 should postpone their donation.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions — including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff — have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.

For more information or to make an appointment to donate, call 800-RED-CROSS or sign up online at redcrossblood.org with sponsor code EHSSpartans.

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