Due to an increase demand now that reopening guidelines are allowing more medical procedures to be performed by hospitals and the fact donations have fallen off during the COVID-19 emergency, the American Red Cross is asking for healthy individuals to step up to help patients experiencing health crises by donating blood or platelets.

As COVID-19 continues to affect daily life, people may not be thinking about blood donation. But blood and platelets are needed daily to help patients battling disease and facing the unexpected. Donating blood is an easy way to care for each other and ensure hospitals have the blood products patients rely on.

There are several donation opportunities coming up locally in Madison and Jefferson County.

Today, Calvary Baptist Church, 2632 Michigan Road, Madison, will host a blood drive from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. while Living Waters Mennonite Church, 8600 West Jones Road, Lexington, will host a drive from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Madison Fitness, 1321 Clifty Drive, Madison, will host a drive from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, May 22.

According to the Red Cross, there is an especially critical need for African American blood donors to help patients battling sickle cell disease.

Many patients, like those with sickle cell disease, have rare blood types that are unique to certain races and ethnicities. Because most people who have sickle cell disease are of African or Latino descent, African American blood donors may be the best match for sickle cell patients in need. Since mid-March, the number of African Americans donating blood with the Red Cross has dropped by more than half amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Healthy individuals who are feeling well are asked to make an appointment to donate by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the blood drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.

As a thank-you for helping ensure a stable blood supply, all who come to give blood or platelets through May 31 will receive a special Red Cross “We’re all in this together” T-shirt, by mail, while supplies last. Donors must have a valid email address on file to claim their T-shirt.