For some people, there’s no thinking twice when it comes to donating blood. They see the need and they stop by a blood drive.

For cancer survivors, the process isn’t as clear, and there are obviously questions and concerns about whether you can even donate at all.

But during this current health crisis when the need is so great, there are undoubtedly cancer survivors who want to give if possible. Here are things to consider regarding blood donations:

According to the American Red Cross, you are eligible to donate 12 months after your cancer has been successfully treated. However, if you suffered from leukemia, lymphoma, or other blood cancers, have had a recurrence, or are currently in treatment, you cannot donate.

If you cannot donate, consider organizing a “virtual” blood drive in coordination with the Red Cross. Encourage your friends, family and co-workers to donate in your honor, then gather online to share experiences and celebrate everyone’s generosity. It’s a rewarding and substantial way to potentially save lives and positively contribute to the current health crisis.

Remember, the Red Cross follows thorough safety protocols at each blood drive or donation center, including:

• Wearing gloves and changing them often
• Wiping down donor-touched areas after every collection
• Using sterile collection sets for every donation
• Preparing the arm for donation with aseptic scrub
• Conducting donor mini-physicals to ensure donors are healthy and well on day of donation

And donors themselves are a part of these extra precautions and safety protocols, including:

• Enhanced disinfecting of equipment
• Providing hand sanitizer for use before entering and throughout the donation appointment
• Temperature checks before presenting donors enter the blood drive or donation center
• Spacing beds, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between donors
• Blankets used by donors are laundered after each use (or donors can bring their own blankets).

It’s not simple for cancer survivors. But it is as beneficial. So, take the time to understand your capacity to give. If you are eligible, find a blood drive near you.

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