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Red Cross entices donors with gift cards during holiday blood drought

The American Red Cross hopes an incentive this holiday season will encourage people to donate blood.

The organization is offering $5 Amazon gift cards through Dec. 18 to try to offset the decline in blood-giving that typically occurs between Thanksgiving and the end of January.

The American Red Cross supplies blood for about 40% of the nation's needs.

"Even our most loyal donors are off visiting family and have holiday plans that change their donation schedule," said Mary Brant, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross. "Another thing that comes into play are college students on winter break. We see an immediate change from that as well."

But donors are needed this time of year. Contributions of Type O blood are especially needed.

"The gift card we are giving is to simply encourage people to make time to donate during this holiday season," Brant said.

All blood components for transfusion gathered by the Red Cross ā€“ red blood cells, platelets and plasma ā€“ come from unpaid volunteers who donate blood.

Isiaih Frederick donates blood to the Red Cross at the University at Buffalo South Campus on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

Nationally, 13,000 blood donations are taken daily in around 2,500 hospitals and transfusions centers. An average of 750 blood donations are needed each day in a region that includes Western and upstate New York and northwest Pennsylvania, Brant said.

The Red Cross and ConnectLife Neighborhood Blood Donation Centers (formerly UNYTS), which also collects blood from volunteers, have competition from two companies that pay people to donate plasma.

Unlike the Red Cross and ConnectLife, which only collect blood for transfusions to patients, for-pay plasma companies CSL Plasma and Somerset Labs, which partners with KEDPLASMA, buy plasma for use in medical treatments.

To donate blood, download the American Red Cross blood donor app, go to Redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-733-2767. The Western New York chapters are located at 786 Delaware Ave. in Buffalo and 325 E. 4th St. in Jamestown.

To donate at ConnectLife, call 563-0343 for the Williamsville and West Seneca locations, and 563-0343 for the Tonawanda location.

New plasma centers boost quest for your blood in WNY

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