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Red Cross Implements Change to Enhance Donor Safety for Younger Donors

New Deferral Criteria in Place

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross has implemented new height and weight requirements for all blood donors 18 years of age and younger to reduce the risk of post-donation reactions for people in this age range.

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"We are doing this for the safety of our high school age donors," said Anne Eder, MD PhD, Executive Medical Officer, American Red Cross. "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."

While most blood donors have a positive experience and feel good about donating blood, young and first-time donors are more likely than adults to experience lightheadedness or dizziness after donation. A recent Red Cross Medical Office study showed that 16- and 17-year-old donors had the highest incidence of complications and need for medical care after donation. In light of this study, the Red Cross has made a concerted effort to reduce the risk of donor reactions in teenagers by developing a systematic approach to managing high school blood drives.

This same research also suggested that young donors who have a blood volume less than 3500 mL are more likely to have an adverse reaction. As a result, the Red Cross began implementation of gender-based height and weight eligibility requirements on September 1. All students at high school blood drives will now be evaluated based on these requirements. In addition, all donors 18 years of age and younger, regardless of where they go to donate, must also meet the new gender-based height and weight requirements. Boys who are shorter than 5' and girls who are shorter than 5'6" must weigh more than 110 pounds, depending on their height.

Students will not be weighed and measured, but will be asked to confidentially give their height and weight. The new guidelines may defer some young people who were able to give blood previously. They 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 more information 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 or join our blog at

SOURCE American Red Cross

SOURCE American Red Cross
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