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Be a Hero: Donate Blood, Platelets during Trauma Awareness Month

Every day, the American Red Cross must collect nearly 14,000 blood donations to meet the needs of trauma patients and others with serious medical conditions. During Trauma Awareness Month in May, the Red Cross urges eligible blood and platelet donors to roll up a sleeve on behalf of those in need.

Each year traumas account for 41 million emergency department visits and 2.3 million hospital admissions across the nation, according to the National Trauma Institute. When seconds count, it is the blood products already on the shelves that help save lives in an emergency situation. The Red Cross salutes the heroes who donate blood or platelets on a regular basis to ensure a readily available supply, including donors like 19-year-old Felix Lilly of Portland, Ore.

DEDICATED TO DONATION Lilly knows firsthand how a sudden accident can lead to serious health implications. When he was ten years old, Lilly fell while climbing a tree. He broke his wrist, femur, suffered a skull fracture, and spent three weeks in a coma. His treatment included blood transfusion.

Today, Lilly is healthy and enjoys playing the piano, accordion and organ. He is also passionate about blood and platelet donation. His experience in the hospital underscored the importance of this lifesaving gift for patients recovering from injury or illness.

“From the age of 10 to age 16, I would continuously talk to my dad about donating, and how I could not wait to get to the age where I could donate myself,” said Lilly.

In 2014, Lilly started donating platelets every two weeks for a total of 24 times within the calendar year. As of mid-April 2017, Lilly had given a total of 173 units of blood and platelets.

When asked why he donates, Lilly said, “The fact that I know I’m helping save the lives of cancer patients, burn victims and anyone else who needs platelets to survive. I do it for the young kids with chronic diseases so they have a chance to survive and thrive as adults.”

MAKE AN APPOINTMENT TODAY Be a hero for trauma patients who are fighting to recover. Schedule an appointment to donate blood or platelets using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Type O negative red blood cells, type AB plasma and platelets play a critical role in hospitals. In situations where there isn’t time to determine a patient’s blood type, emergency personnel reach for type O negative red blood cells and type AB plasma – which can be transfused to patients with any blood type.

Platelets must be transfused within just five days after donation – so there is a constant, often critical, need for new and current donors to give to keep up with hospital demand.

CREATE A SLEEVESUP CAMPAIGN Creating a SleevesUp virtual blood drive online at is another way to help patients in need. It only takes a few minutes to start a campaign and invite colleagues, friends and family to pledge their support by making an appointment to donate at a blood drive or donation center convenient for them. Those who are not eligible to give blood, do not have a Red Cross blood donation opportunity nearby or simply want to do more can support a SleevesUp campaign by making a financial donation.

Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in most states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood or platelets. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

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