The American Red Cross needs people of all races and ethnicities to give blood to help ensure a blood supply as diverse as the patients who depend on it.

For a small percentage of the population, finding someone else with the same blood type can be difficult.

While the vast majority of people have types A, B, O or AB blood, some blood types are unique to certain racial and ethnic groups, so a diverse blood supply is important to meeting the medical needs of a diverse patient population.

Patients who require frequent blood transfusions as part of their treatment, such as those with sickle cell disease or other lifelong blood disorders, often need close blood type matches to prevent complications from their transfusion therapy.

All blood types are needed to ensure that the right blood product is available at the right time for all patients.

One can make an appointment to donate by visiting the Red Cross Web site at RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Blood drives are also essential in helping ensure blood is available for patients this winter.

The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies.

The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether or not they developed symptoms. 

Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and who then may qualify to be convalescent plasma donors.

Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors who have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus.

The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test.

To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.

What follows is a list of upcoming blood drives in the Redwood area:

• In Vesta, Sept. 21 from 1-7 p.m.at the community center.

• In Belview, Sept. 22 from 2-7 p.m. at the Odeon Hall.

• In Lamberton, Sept. 30 from 12-6 p.m. at the American Legion.

- Image courtesy of the American Red Cross Web site