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Donate blood to help those fighting cancer

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, the American Red Cross urges eligible donors to band together to provide hope and healing to patients fighting cancer by giving blood or platelets, according to a press release.

Donors are asked to make appointments by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Donors of all blood types are urged to help ensure a stable supply for cancer patients and others this fall.

Blood donations play a crucial role in cancer treatment

Diane Doehrman began donating blood during college. In the years following, she became a platelet donor and helped start blood drives in her community.

More recently, Doehrman has been on the receiving end of blood donations. Fourteen years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now she has an incurable cancer, malignant mixed Müllerian tumor.

“As a cancer patient, I had to have blood transfusions several times when the chemotherapy treatments have destroyed my immune system,” she said. “I am so very thankful for the donations from others. It can truly save a life.”

Cancer patients undergoing surgery and chemotherapy may require red blood cell or platelet transfusions. Patients fighting cancer need more blood than those with any other disease, using nearly one-quarter of the nation’s blood supply, according to the release.

Important COVID-19 information for donors

The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether an individual developed COVID-19 symptoms. Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus.

COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within one to two weeks in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity. The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation, the release stated.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities in the area

• Noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 28 at Alden-Conger High School, 215 N. Broadway in Alden

• Noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 29 at Northbridge Mall, 2510 Bridge Ave. in Albert Lea

• Noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 30 at Northbridge Mall, 2510 Bridge Ave. in Albert Lea — hosted by the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce