Red Cross urges donations, plans local blood drives

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — As many prepare to celebrate a busy holiday season, the American Red Cross encourages eligible donors to give blood.

As a result of low blood donor turnout in recent months, the blood supply heading into the holidays is at its lowest n more than a decade at this time of year. The ongoing effects of COVID-19 and a summer spike in delta variant cases significantly challenged the nation’s blood supply heading into the fall. The pandemic also resulted in fewer blood drives at schools and colleges, contributing to a 34 percent drop in new blood donors from last year − one of the largest year-to-year decreases and one that could threaten essential medical care for patients. 

Locally, the Northern New England Red Cross Region has experienced a 28.5 percent decrease in new blood donors this year. Officials encourage those who can to donate blood at one of these three drives planned in Aroostook County in the coming month.

Tuesday, Dec. 14: Presque Isle, 12-6 p.m. at the Sargent Family Community Center, 22 Chapman St. 

Wednesday, Dec. 15: Fort Kent, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Fort Kent Knights of Columbus Hall, 372 Frenchville Rd.

Thursday, Dec. 16: Caribou, 12-6 p.m. at the Caribou Inn and Convention Center, 19 Main St.

 As a thank-you gift, all those who come to give from Nov. 29 through Dec. 16 will be entered for a chance to win a private screening for the winner and 50 of their guests of the new film “The Matrix Resurrections,” as well as a $10 gift card.

Each Red Cross drive follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions — including face masks for donors and staff, regardless of vaccination status — have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. 

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. 

Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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