At a time when our differences are magnified in memes and on social media, Hoosiers often show exceptional benevolence when it comes to saving the lives of neighbors and strangers.
In 2021, Indiana set a record for the number of organs transplanted, eclipsing the previous year's mark by 10%. On Wednesday, the Indiana Donor Network reported that organ donations last year saved the lives of more than 800 people.
The Indianapolis-based network conducted 109 organ recovery surgeries at its onsite Organ and Tissue Recovery Center, which opened in 2020. Also, the center said it supported 2,345 family members of organ and tissue donors through its after-care program and added more than 120,000 new Hoosiers to the national donor registry.
Now, another life-saving group needs Hoosiers to step up to help. The American Red Cross reports that it is “dangerously low” on blood supplies as donations are down by 10% since March 2020. It's a significant loss if you factor in that just 37% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, and only 10% of those people do so annually.
According to Olivia Lusher, executive director of Northeast Indiana Chapter of the Red Cross, recent problems include canceled blood drives nationally as a result of bad weather. The American Red Cross reported 60 blood drive cancellations because of inclement conditions during early January. Sixty does not sound tragic, but the cancellations equate to 2,000 units of blood and platelets not collected.
COVID-19 has also caused cancellations, a result of staffing shortages due to illness. However, having had COVID does not preclude you from donating blood. Lusher caught the virus, recovered and continues to donate.
You can help the Red Cross in two ways, Lusher said. First, go to redcrossblood.org to find local blood donation centers and blood drives. (Follow CDC protocols: If you feel ill or are sick, stay home.) Donations will help people across the region, Lusher said.
Secondly, consider volunteering time as a blood donation ambassador. It's a job that requires no more than the willingness to deliver Hoosier hospitality for a few hours to friends and neighbors giving life to people whose lives are in jeopardy.