Hey, Red Cross bloodmobile, you’ve come a long way baby!

Story by Sue Thesenga of North Central Blood Services and
Abby Arthaud 
of Southwest Blood Services Region 

Red Cross blood truck, ca. 1940s. Image: University of Minnesota

You’ve probably seen one rolling down the road or through your town on its way to a blood drive — an American Red Cross bloodmobile. They allow blood drive organizers to host drives anywhere, making it more convenient for donors to give near home, work or school.

A self-contained bloodmobile from 1957. Among the first in the nation, it was paid for by the St. Paul Masonic Women.

Throughout the years, Red Cross bloodmobiles have changed, but their mission has stayed the same—to help fulfill the need for blood donations.

As far back as WWII and the Korean War, requests for blood for the armed forces reached St. Paul and donated blood was included in air shipments overseas. The successful efforts of collection centers throughout the war spurred calls from the nation’s hospitals and other medical facilities for an ongoing civilian blood program.

Train bloodmobile

In January 1949, the first mobile operation from the St. Paul Blood Center was deployed to North Branch, Minnesota. This was one of the first self-contained, traveling blood donation centers and transformed blood collection. Another bloodmobile was put into operation in the St. Paul region in 1950 to help serve 32 additional counties. Since then, self-contained bloodmobiles have been adopted across the nation and world.

American Red Cross bloodmobile of today

Today’s bloodmobiles are fully equipped for blood collection and short-term blood storage, featuring open floor plans, climate control, advanced technology and spacious interiors. They are designed to be more comfortable and enhance the donor experience. The newest bloodmobiles include special features for donors, such as iPads on each donor bed with all of the Red Cross apps and an LCD billboard on the exterior that tells passersby which blood types are currently most needed.

Today’s bloodmobile interior

Bloodmobiles travel all over the state every day to fulfill the constant need for blood. From planes, trains and bloodmobiles, the mission of the Red Cross is to ensure patients get the blood products they need wherever they need them, whenever they need them. Some things never change!

Help us celebrate 100 years of Red Cross service in Minnesota. Click here to find a blood drive near you. Click here to share your Red Cross story. 

Red Cross blood donor ambassador makes pay back a great act of service

BloodDonorAmbassador_PhotoSteveSanfordDuring the Vietnam War, Steve Sanford was seriously injured. The Red Cross helped him communicate what was happening to his family back home. He later was decorated with the Purple Heart for being wounded during military service.

This early connection with the Red Cross, and its work supporting American soldiers, helped Steve decide that he wanted to pay back a decades-old good deed. So after he retired from a career in food and mail services, Steve became a Red Cross volunteer.

“I’ve gotten to know the donors and staff very well, and it’s my honor to ensure donors have the best experience possible when they come to give,” says Steve. “I love meeting new people, and I’ve made a lot of great friendships by volunteering with the Red Cross!”

Since 2011, Steve has served as a blood donor ambassador at blood drives in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area. Blood donor ambassadors have an important role welcoming and guiding blood donors during drives, ensuring donor wellness after blood donation, and providing friendly, courteous and knowledgeable assistance to blood donors, staff, community partners and visitors.

Sanford has served as a donor ambassador at numerous blood donation centers and area blood drives including the Minnesota State Fair, 12 Hours of Giving, KARE 11 and many others. He has logged nearly 3,000 volunteer hours to date! Currently, he greets and assists donors at the North Suburban Blood Donation Center in Arden Hills twice a week, and always with a big, cheery smile on his face.

“We’re incredibly fortunate to have dedicated volunteers like Steve who are so generous with their time,” says Arika Quick, manager of volunteer resources for Red Cross blood services in Minnesota. “Steve is a role model for new volunteers and has been instrumental in helping train and mentor new volunteers. He’s a great example of someone who truly wants to make a difference by supporting the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross.”

133903-March-is-Red-Cross-Month-Facebook-FINAL3Sanford is also a dedicated blood donor, having reached 22 gallons. His first blood donation was May 6, 1966, at St. Paul College. Since that time he has donated whole blood, double red cells, platelets and white cells as often as possible. Health issues have prevented him from donating since last summer, but he hopes that in the near future he’ll donate again.

“When you volunteer with the Red Cross you become part of a group of people who truly make a difference in the lives of people in serious medical need,” Steve says. “You just don’t know when you or a loved one will be the one in need.”

Everyday the Red Cross relies on the dedicated efforts of volunteers like Steve to collect the blood products needed to treat patients across the country. You, too, can help others in a way that makes a real difference in people’s lives. Become a Red Cross blood donor ambassador and #BeAHero during Red Cross Month and for months to come. For more information, contact (651) 291-3360 or ncvolunteerresouces@redcross.org.

Story by Sue Thesenga, Communications Manager for American Red Cross North Central Blood Services

Help prevent a blood donation shortage

January 2016 Urgent Need_Stamp GraphicUpdate: On January 25 the American Red Cross issued an emergency appeal for blood and platelet donations following recent severe weather that has forced the cancellation of more than 300 blood drives across 20 states. The result is more than 9,500 donations uncollected, further depleting an already low winter supply. Blood donation appointments can be quickly and easily scheduled by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

12 January 2016 — Every day in January hundreds of additional donations of blood and platelets are urgently needed for patients across the United States.

Severe winter weather in some areas of the country has already forced the cancellation of approximately 30 blood drives this month, resulting in over 1,100 uncollected donations. More cancellations are likely.

Hectic holiday schedules in November and December contributed to about 1,700 fewer blood drives held, and 50,000 less donations collected, than the two previous months.

Charilie_BloodMeanwhile, blood products are being distributed to hospitals as quickly as they are coming in for patients like 2-year-old Charlie who has leukemia. Click here to meet Charlie and her mom.

Blood and platelet donors of all types are needed to reverse the declining supply and help ensure blood products continue to be available. A shortage can be avoided if at least two more donors – above what’s currently expected – come to donate at every Red Cross blood drive in January.

January 2016 Urgent Need_InfographicOn average, the Red Cross must collect 14,000 blood and platelet donations every day for patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. Blood and platelets are often needed to respond to emergencies large and small, including the personal ones that occur in communities across the country every day involving accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

January 2016 Urgent Need_Empty bedEligible blood donors with types O, B negative and A negative blood are encouraged to donate double red cells where available. During a double red cell donation, two units of red blood cells are collected while most of the plasma and platelets are returned to the donor.

Make an appointment now to help replenish the blood supply by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).