Sometime later this year, blood drives sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will have produced 1,000,000 blood units for the American Red Cross.
That is a significant number and an impressive impact, said Ryan Warren, region donor services executive for the Red Cross Utah/Nevada region, who explained how each unit of blood helps about three other people.
“So that’s almost 3 million people whose lives have been affected in such a positive way,” he said.
Blood drives are often organized by stakes. Warren said throughout the Utah/Nevada region, there can be anywhere from four or five to up to 10 blood drives a week on a stake level. And many of those stakes host multiple drives a year.
He also said Church employees donate at blood drives at the Church Office Building. College students and others donate at blood drives on Church-owned campuses or at institute buildings.
And more blood drives are now listed and found on JustServe.org, which Warren said is a wonderful tool with a growing impact.
Read more: Church gives $5.1 million to American Red Cross, in part to help boost sickle cell initiative
Stake blood drives typically see a higher turnout than others. An average-sized community blood drive might see 25 people, but the average for a Church-sponsored blood drive is 34, said Warren.
“I do think there is a high percentage of Church members who donate. There’s just a willingness to come out,” said Warren. “Even if people have to wait because we have such a good response, people are patient and so good to give — and give multiple times.”
The blood is used for people undergoing cancer treatments, victims of car crashes and traumatic accidents, sickle-cell patients and others. And there is a great need going into the summer of 2022, said Jennifer Alt with the Southwest and Rocky Mountain Division of the American Red Cross.
Alt said the organization typically has a five-day supply of blood, but due to the pandemic, weather events, and lingering staffing issues, the supply is down to one day.
Donors have to wait two months between giving blood, so it would be helpful for donors not just to give soon, but to donate again to help throughout the summer months when need is greater, Warren said. They can book an appointment through www.redcross.org/give-blood.html or search for a nearby blood drive on the JustServe website or app.
“The idea of giving back and of service and of volunteerism is such a strong tenet of your faith,” Alt told the Church News. “I truly think that’s why so many Church members have rallied behind giving blood, because all can participate.”
She said those who can’t give blood at this time can still help with the cause, either by helping a blood drive, or encouraging people to sign up, volunteering to help donors at an event, or offering rides to and from the venue.
Warren added: “If you think your company or school or stake could host another blood drive, that’s incredibly helpful. And JustServe is a good avenue for that, to set up and host a blood drive.“
For those who are hesitant or nervous about donating, Warren said the staff helps through every step of the process, and they make it as quick and painless as possible.
“It’s never as bad as you think,” he said. “it’s almost inexplicable the feeling you get when you are done. You know you have done something good to help someone else out. It’s one of the most altruistic forms of help and service that people can do.”
They aren’t exactly sure when Church donations will cross the one million mark in 2022, but reported that cumulatively over the years up until this year, donors have donated 973,000 units at last count. Previously, about 97,000 units a year have been donated from Church donors.
“The partnership with the Church is an untold story, and when we think about our large partners like the Church, no one really gets close,” said Warren. “I don’t think it compares to anything else I’m aware of, having done this for a long time.”