The dominant health care issue for the past 10 months has been the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Given this, it’s easy to overlook some other basic but important concerns within the medical community. One ongoing problem is the need for blood and plasma, which frequently run short.

Right now, these two medical problems intersect.

With so many people enduring the effects of COVID-19, convalescent plasma is vital. Health care personnel use convalescent plasma from individuals who have recovered from a particular illness to help others in their recovery from the same medical condition. Two well-known organizations have partnered to raise awareness and recruit donors.

“The American Red Cross and the National Football League are teaming up this January, during National Blood Donor Month, to urge individuals — especially those who have recovered from COVID-19 — to give blood and to help tackle the national convalescent plasma shortage. Right now, more donors are needed to help hospital patients,” according to a story published Wednesday by the Watertown Daily News. “During this critical time, the Red Cross and NFL are thrilled to offer all those who come to donate an opportunity to receive a special thank you this month. Those who come to donate blood or platelets this January will be automatically entered to win two tickets to next year’s Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. In addition, those who come to give through Jan. 20 will also be automatically entered to win the Big Game at Home package for an awesome viewing experience safely at home with a 65-inch television and a $500 gift card to put toward food and fun.

“As COVID-19 cases have risen across the U.S., so has the need for convalescent plasma — leading to a shortage of this potentially lifesaving blood product. Like ‘special teams’ units on the field, COVID-19 survivors have a unique ability to make a game-changing difference in the lives of COVID-19 patients. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 may have antibodies in their plasma that could provide a patient’s immune system the boost it needs to beat the virus,” the article reported. “There are two ways COVID-19 survivors can help — through a convalescent plasma donation or by simply giving whole blood. Plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may be used to help COVID-19 patients. Health emergencies don’t pause for holidays, game days or a pandemic — blood is needed every two seconds in the U.S. to help patients battling injury and illness.”

The following blood drives have been scheduled this month (appointments are required, and donors must wear masks):

n Jan. 23, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., New Lebanon Firehouse Community Room, 523 Route 20, New Lebanon

n Jan. 22, 12-5 p.m., St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, 80 Mansion St., Coxsackie

n Jan. 27, 1-6 p.m., Town of Ashland Ambulance, 12094 Route 23, Ashland

n Jan. 30, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Resurrection Lutheran Church, 186 Main St., Cairo

The need for blood and plasma is critical. And blood drive personnel will administer rapid tests for the coronavirus, so donating is a good way to spot infection.

Individuals can schedule an appointment to give blood with the American Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or activating the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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