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Red Cross Changes Requirements for Young Blood Donors
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October 21, 2009

The American Red Cross has rolled out new height and weight requirements for all blood donors 18 years of age and younger to help ensure their safety.

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Young blood donors are more likely to have a reaction after giving blood.  This can be something minor such as dizziness or lightheadedness.  However, fainting and more serious reactions can occur. 

Many of these reactions are attributed to a young donor’s low blood volume.  Previously, donors had to be in good health, 17 years of age or older, and weigh 110 pounds or more. These latest requirements, implemented on September 1, are being enacted to help ensure people will lose only a relatively small amount of their total blood volume. 

“We realize some who gave blood previously will now be deferred from donating,” said Anne Eder, MD PhD, Executive Medical Officer, American Red Cross. “But these measures are necessary to keep these donors safe.”

This new policy affects all high school students, regardless of their age, who try to donate at a high school blood drive, as well as all donors 18 years of age and younger who try to donate at any bloodmobile. Boys who are shorter than 5’ and girls who are shorter than 5’6” must weigh more than 110 pounds, depending on their height.

By reducing the risk of donor reactions in this donor demographic, the Red Cross may be more likely to see these new teenage donors not only return to donate, but also to recruit friends and classmates. This initiative is just the latest step in our approach to increasing donor safety and satisfaction.

Students will not be weighed and measured, but will be asked to confidentially give their height and weight.  Anyone who is deferred can help by organizing blood drives, or volunteering when the bloodmobile visits their school.  To learn more about how to be a Red Cross volunteer, or for further questions on eligibility, please call 1-800-GIVE LIFE.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

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