Platelets are often referred to as “Liquid Gold.” The blood component is shiny yellow, always in demand – and for patients who need them – priceless.
Some donors have made it their mission to help save lives through the American Red Cross by giving platelets. Donors like John Betzen, are committed to doing their part to help patients in need with a dedication that never wavers. Betzen has already reached a major milestone of giving more than 520 blood and platelet donations.
For more than 45 years, Betzen has rolled up a sleeve knowing his donations are helping someone. In August 2011, that someone could have been his granddaughter Sarah. She was born with many complications, including an abnormal opening in her diaphragm. Over several months, Sarah needed surgeries to survive, as well as blood and platelet transfusions.
“Our family is very grateful to those donors who donated their platelets and blood,” said Betzen. “This is not something you can go to the store and purchase. We are certain it helped save Sarah’s life.”
The Precious Gift of Platelets
Platelets are a key clotting component of blood often needed by those who are extremely ill such as cancer patients, burn victims and bone marrow recipients. Unlike whole blood, which can be safely donated every 56 days, platelets can be donated every seven days, up to 24 times a year.
“By donating platelets more people can be helped, because you can donate more frequently,” said Betzen. “It makes me feel good to help fill the need.”
Platelets must be transfused within five days of donation. It’s important that eligible platelet donors give as often as possible to help ensure this potentially lifesaving blood product is available for patients whenever and wherever needed.
Schedule an Appointment to Give
For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate, use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org, or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in most states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood or platelets. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Nearly every eight minutes, the American Red Cross extends a helping hand to a family in need that has lost everything – the roof over their heads, their clothes, and their most cherished possessions – to a home fire.
The Western North Carolina Region Red Cross has been busy helping our neighbors, but we need your help on one special day to continue to provide the emergency services that our neighbors depend on each and every day.
On April 21, you have a chance to help families in need whenever and wherever they need it by participating in the Red Cross’ Giving Day to #help1family. A donation of just $88.50 can provide a family with a day’s worth of food, plus blankets and other essentials.
We are proud of the work we accomplished to help people in the Western North Carolina Region last year:
Providing assistance to over 1,100 families in need.
Training more than 24,250 people in Red Cross CPR, First Aid, and AED Training.
Collecting close to 280,000 red blood cells donated by volunteers.
Spread the word about Giving Day – the more people who support Giving day means we can help more families. Use your social media channels to reach out to friends and family and ask them to donate to #help1family by visiting redcross.org/giving day.
Here are four ways your donation will #help1family:
Supporting a family in urgent need: provide funding to give a family a day’s worth of food, blankets, and other essentials.
Supplying warm meals: help provide hearty, comforting meals to people impacted by disasters.
Providing clean-up kits after a disaster strikes: make clean-up kits available for families in need that include vital items like a mop, bucket, and disinfectant.
Deploying an emergency response vehicle for a day: Red Cross workers travel to impacted neighborhoods in fully stocked Emergency Response vehicles to provide food, water and critical relief.
Imagine the impact that we could have on our community if everyone wanted to #help1family.
At the American Red Cross, training people how to respond to and prepare for emergencies is our core mission. We offer a range of health and safety classes that teach you new skills, keep you knowledgeable, confident and ready to respond in almost any emergency situation.
With courses to cover all key areas of training, available online and in classrooms across the country, Red Cross classes deliver the training you seek, when, where and how you need it. Click on the links below for more details on classes for the month of April 2016:
At the American Red Cross, training people how to respond to and prepare for emergencies is our core mission. We offer a range of health and safety classes that teach you new skills, keep you knowledgeable, confident and ready to respond in almost any emergency situation. With courses to cover all key areas of training, available online and in classrooms across the country, Red Cross classes deliver the training you seek, when, where and how you need it.
For more information on the classes, check out Health and Safety Training Course Schedule below for March 2016:
Put your skills behind the wheel to good use by joining the American Red Cross volunteer team. Transportation specialists are needed to deliver lifesaving blood to hospitals.
Volunteers must meet the following minimum requirements:
Valid driver’s license with a minimum of 3 years driving experience
Be able to verify a safe driving record with insurance
Ability to lift boxes weighing up to 45 pounds for hospital deliveries
Ability to volunteer for two to four shifts per month (flexible schedules available)
If you are interested in learning more or applying, contact 704.347.8270 or e-mail at Sandra.Peake@redcross.org. Make a difference today!
After being told that she was unable to donate blood, Dottie Burton found another way to give, volunteering for the Asheville-Mountain Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.
That was about 18 years ago. Since then, Burton, a sprightly retiree who spent decades working in the retail world, has remained an accommodating fixture here at the blood donation center in North Asheville.
“There is never a dull day here,” she said with a smile this past Monday, wearing a fleece vest and a neck scarf.
A few days a week, she serves as a kind of hostess in the donation center, bearing sugary drinks, snacks and bags of ice for donors. Perhaps most important, she encourages them to return.
Her hospitable touch had a calming effect, if only for a moment, as I prepared to give a pint of blood. While it was not my first time doing so, I had to steel myself this time around.
After having my blood pressure taken in a tiny office, I was pricked with a needle to measure the level of hemoglobin in my blood — the protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.
Then, on a computer, I answered a series of questions to determine my eligibility. That was when I started feeling a bit lightheaded: Asked if I’ve ever contracted this or that disease, I began feeling a bit vulnerable, thinking that while I have remained relatively healthy over the years, that could change.
However valid my wariness, it subsided amid the comforting tone of the collection specialist who would draw my blood, Carrie Banks. She was reassuring, making small talk as I eased into a reclining chair after the preparations. Gently asking me to look away, she subtly slipped the needle into my left arm.
Minutes later, the bag was full. I attempted to sit up, but it was too soon. My body needed more time to recover.
Then came Dottie, delivering across the light-filled room a tiny can of cranberry juice with an unwrapped drinking straw in its mouth. Replenished, I slowly sat back up, this time finding my feet.
Formed in 1911, the Mountain-Asheville Area chapter covers 16 counties in Western North Carolina and comprises more than 300 volunteers, said Amanda Edwards, its executive director. They are a crucial part of the nonprofit humanitarian organization, which relies entirely on donations.
In addition to Burton’s role in the donation center, volunteers serve as receptionists, organizers of blood drives and disaster relief workers.
Responding to fires throughout the region, the Red Cross provides support services for the displaced, such as emergency shelter and financial assistance. In January, the region saw more than 50 fires, most of them involving houses, Edwards noted.
“We can’t do it by ourselves,” she said.
For its part, the donation center collects about 350 units of blood each month, in addition to about 2,400 units at other donation sites over the same period, Edwards said.
The chapter is holding a series of blood drives throughout the area in the coming week, including two in downtown Asheville. One is scheduled for Feb. 24 at the First Baptist Church, on Oak Street, the other for Feb. 28 at the Central United Methodist Church, on Church Street.
For Burton, a petite 85-year-old with a sunny personality, her enthusiasm for such charitable acts is apparent. While she herself has never given blood — she has managed to stay below the minimum weight limit for those ages 17 and older, 110 pounds — she is one of the longest-serving volunteers for the chapter.
“Everyone who comes into this place, they’re saving a life,” Burton said. “To me, they are the greatest volunteers.”
Indeed, giving blood is significant, especially given that the average adult holds only about 10 pints of it. That is particularly true in winter months, when the number of donations tends to decrease, Edwards noted.
That is why Tom Muncy, a 73-year-old Vietnam War veteran, has donated about 18 gallons so far. Living around the corner from the donation center, he has made it a point to do so four times each year.
When he reaches 20 gallons, “I don’t think I’m going to stop,” he said at the center on Monday. Noting that his blood is O-positive, he added, “I can give.”
This is the opinion of Jake Flannick, filling in for Mountain Causes Reporter Beth Walton while she is out on maternity leave. Like Walton, each week I plan to volunteer around Asheville and share my adventure with our readers. If you’d like me to visit your group, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-232-5829. Learn more atwww.citizen-times.com/causes.
The Asheville-Mountain Area chapter of the American Red Cross is always seeking more volunteers. For more information, call Alison Gibbons, the chapter’s volunteer specialist, at 828-333-9919.
Asheville’s first responders are facing off for a lifesaving cause. Local heroes are rolling up their sleeves—and encouraging the community to do the same—as they vie for the most pints donated at the annual Battle of the Badges blood drive.
The Asheville Fire Department, Asheville Police Department, Buncombe County Emergency Medical Service, Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina Highway Patrol will go head-to-head to encourage blood donations for their team. Donors at the blood drive will vote for their favorite team before they donate, and the winner is announced at the end of the drive.
Battle of the Badges blood drive
Wednesday, Feb. 24
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
First Baptist Church, 5 Oak St., in Asheville
All presenting donors at the blood drive will receive a T-shirt and local refreshments, courtesy of area restaurants.
To make an appointment, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), visit redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code: avlbattleofbadges or use the Blood Donor App