Save Three Lives in 20 Minutes

Thanks to summer fun and school vacations, Philadelphia blood banks are dangerously low. Here's why donating blood now is more important than ever

The other day two of my fellow coworkers dropped by my office with the official tell-tale signs that they had taken an hour or so out of their busy days to donate blood to the Red Cross: a red-and-white “I’m a Lifesaver” sticker and a bruise on the inside of their left arms. “I always try to donate every few months,” one told me, explaining how her four-year-old nephew, Sean, received numerous transfusions at CHOP after being diagnosed with Leukemia last February. “This is a time of year when blood donation numbers are down, too.”

Turns out that this summer, like most summers, marked a tremendous dip in area blood donations. While many of us were busy going on vacation, lounging on the Jersey beaches and finding fun ways to escape this past summer’s excruciating heat, there were less volunteers signing up to give blood. An issue when you realize that more than 38,000 blood donations are needed every day in the US, and that it’s the American Red Cross that actively ensures that blood donations are received and dispersed throughout our nation’s hospitals.

And, when school is out, the blood bank supplies also take a hit. “The American Red Cross relies heavily on the high schools and colleges to host and run blood drives,” says Anthony Tornetta, Regional Communication Manager for the American Red Cross. Though all blood types are encouraged to donate, the most needed type is the universal blood type, 0 negative. “About one pint of blood is donated per donor and that one pint can save up to three lives,” says Tornetta. On average, it takes five to 17 minutes to actually donate, with a little extra time to register and rest for a few minutes after.

So, if you want to be a hero—you’ll be rewarded with OJ and cookies, and be able to munch guilt-free—check out the list of upcoming area blood drives here. “It only takes a half hour or so,” says one of our senior editors. “It hurts for a second and then it’s just a vague pressure. Not enough to keep me from doing it.”

Need a little more inspiration? Look at how adorable Sean is! If you want to learn more about him and his treatment, go here. Our editor is hosting a beef and beer fundraiser for him later this month! — Research by Alyssa Brindisi

Sean Kerr, age 4