RICHMOND, Va. -- For decades, they dedicated their lives to helping others through the American Red Cross, leaving a strong legacy. One, that the American Red Cross celebrates today.
This Black History Month, officials are encouraging Virginians to donate blood in honor of African Americans like Dr. Jerome Holland and Dr. Charles Drew.
Dr. Holland was an educator and former US Ambassador to Sweden. He had strong ties to Virginia, even serving as President of Hampton Institute (which is now Hampton University).
He’s lauded for leading the Red Cross Blood Services program and for blood research.
Dr. Charles Drew’s research about the storage and shipment of blood plasma proved that blood could be stored for transfusions.
American Red Cross’ Jonathan McNamara says their impact on the Red Cross has been monumental.
“We think it’s important to take a step back and honor the legacies of Dr. Charles Drew who was so instrumental in the beginning and implementation of blood banking here in the United States and why this is important today” McNamara said.
He also said the agency is in a push to reel in more blood and plasma donors, especially considering the blood plasma shortage they’re facing.
People who have recovered from COVID-19 can donate convalescent plasma that could prove to be life saving for current COVID patients.
“When you make that donation, your blood contains possible antibodies that can provide therapeutic value for patients who are in ICU settings across the state” McNamara added.
They’re hoping for a diverse donor pool because many patients they help are also fighting conditions like Sickle Cell which disproportionately impacts African Americans.
Many with Sickle Cell can only receive blood from other African American donors because of certain markers that are in the blood.
“But specifically to the African American community. With patients battling conditions like Sickle Cell, having a diverse blood supply is really critical to our mission to make sure that patients can get the treatment they need” McNamara said.
People who donate during Black History Month will receive a five dollar Amazon gift card as a thank you. That’s possible thanks to a 1 million dollar Amazon donation. In addition to the financial gift, the company has opened their corporate and operations building to host blood drives nationwide.
If you want to help, you can sign up at Red cross blood dot org. You can also donate at one of these upcoming blood drives:
2/17/2021: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Chester United Methodist Church, 12132 Percival St.
2/27/2021: 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., Woodlake United Methodist Church, 15460 Hampton Park Dr.
2/16/2021: 2 p.m. - 6 p.m., Salisbury Country Club, 13620 W. Salisbury Rd.
2/20/2021: 8 a.m. - 2 p.m., Midas at Tomahawk Ruritan Club, 4101 N. Bailey Bridge Road
2/25/2021: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., American Legion Post 186 Midlothian, 901 Otterdale Rd
2/28/2021: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., Crestwood Presbyterian Church, 1200 Charter Colony Pkwy
2/16/2021: 11:45 a.m. - 6:45 p.m., Arboretum Blood Donation Center, 9200 Arboretum Pkwy
2/18/2021: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Transformation Church RVA, 6000 Iron Bridge Rd
2/19/2021: 7:15 a.m. - 2:15 p.m., Arboretum Blood Donation Center, 9200 Arboretum Pkwy
2/23/2021: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Kingsland Baptist Church, 8801 Perrymont Rd
2/23/2021: 11:45 a.m. - 6:45 p.m., Arboretum Blood Donation Center, 9200 Arboretum Pkwy
2/26/2021: 7:15 a.m. - 2:15 p.m., Arboretum Blood Donation Center, 9200 Arboretum Pkwy