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Red Cross asks for blood donations amid shortage

As blood supplies continue to plummet, the American Red Cross is asking for help from the public by offering a free Amazon gift card, worth $5, to anyone who donates blood through August 29. The Red Cross announced the offer July 29, stating in a press release they had less than a three-day supply of most blood types and less than a two-day supply of type O blood at that time. While many have rolled up their sleeves to donate after the nation’s recent tragedies, the Red Cross stressed, “When an emergency arises, it is the blood already on the shelves that saves lives,” urging people to donate year-round to get ahead of emergency situations.

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Amazon donated $1 million to the Red Cross in an effort to get more blood donations by offering the gift card with each donation. According to the Red Cross, the process of a blood donation takes around an hour from start to finish, but the actual donation takes only around 8 to 10 minutes. Donors looking to save time can also fill out a pre-donation health history questionnaire online using a mobile device or computer.

To be eligible to donate blood, you must bring a blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification. In most states, 17 is the age requirement, although 16-year-olds can donate blood with parental consent. Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good general health.

In addition to saving lives, donating blood offers multiple benefits:

Every blood donor gets a “mini physical” prior to donation to check blood pressure, hemoglobin and temperature, along with testing for 13 infectious diseases

Repeated blood donations may help your blood to flow better, reducing viscosity and possibly helping to limit damage to the lining of your blood vessels, which should result in fewer arterial blockages

For each unit of blood donated, you lose about one-quarter of a gram of iron, which is one of the best ways to avoid the health risks associated with iron overload

Your body has a limited capacity to excrete iron, so it can easily build up in and damage organs like your liver, heart and pancreas; many adult men and postmenopausal women are at risk for health problems associated with excess iron