PORTLAND — The American Red Cross typically has a tough time keeping the blood supply strong during the winter months when inclement weather and seasonal illnesses can impact donors. This year the pandemic adds in another challenge in keeping the blood supply strong. The Red Cross is urging healthy individuals to make an appointment to give blood or platelets this month, according to a news release from the Red Cross.

Every day there are thousands of patients who rely on lifesaving blood donations — people like Leslie Johnson. In 2005, a farming accident left Johnson with broken bones and massive bleeding. In the first 24 hours after the accident, she received 10 units of blood and platelets. Additional transfusions and surgeries followed.

Johnson’s high school-age daughter, Emily, hosted a blood drive last semester because she recognizes the role of blood in helping save her mom’s life. “If blood had not been available when she needed it, she might not be here today. I might not have had my mom growing up. It’s my honor to be able to promote blood donation and help pay it forward to others in need.”

As Leslie Johnson faces additional surgeries to address ongoing injuries from the accident, she may need more blood transfusions.

“It’s so important, especially as we navigate this pandemic, to make sure there is blood available,” said Emily. “Blood is such a meaningful gift to give.”

As a thank-you for helping ensure a stable blood supply, those who come to give this February will receive a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card via email, courtesy of Amazon. (Additional information and details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/Together.)

The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether an individual developed COVID-19 symptoms. Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus. Plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may be used to help COVID-19 patients.

COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within one to two weeks in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity. The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions — including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff — have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities Feb. 1-15
Androscoggin County

Auburn
Feb. 2: Noon-4 p.m., East Auburn Baptist Church, 560 Park Ave.

Lewiston
Feb. 3: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Pathway Vineyard Church, 9 Foss Road
Feb. 9: Noon-5 p.m., Ramada Conference Center, 490 Pleasant St.

Cumberland County

Brunswick
Feb. 6: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Parkview Adventist Medical Center, 329 Maine St.
Feb. 10: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Morong Brunswick, 314 Bath Road
Feb. 12: Noon-5 p.m., Brunswick Hotel and Tavern, 4 Noble St.

Falmouth
Feb. 6 and 11: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., The Episcopal Church of St. Mary, 43 Foreside Road

Gorham
Feb. 4: 1 -6 p.m., Cressey Road United Methodist Church, 81 Cressey Road
Feb. 10: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Brooks Student Center, 32 Campus Ave.

Gray
Feb. 12: Noon-5 p.m., American Legion Gray, 15 Lewiston Road

New Gloucester
Feb. 10: 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m., The Commons, 59 Pineland Drive

Portland
Feb. 1: 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Italian Heritage Center, 40 Westland Ave.
Feb. 3: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Portland Elks Lodge, 1945 Congress St.
Feb. 10: 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Clarion Hotel, 1230 Congress St.
Feb. 11: 9 a.m.-2 p.m., MMC 995 Congress Street, 995 Congress St.

Scarborough
Feb. 10: 1-6 p.m., Saint Maximilian Church, 150 Black Point Road

South Portland
Feb. 2: 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Portland Sheraton at Sable Oaks, 200 Sable Oaks Drive
Feb. 3 and 15: 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Eastpoint Christian Church, 345 Clarks Pond Parkway

Standish
Feb. 6: 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Living Stone Community Church, 711 Ossipee Trail W

Westbrook
Feb. 12: 1-6 p.m., Westbrook Community Center, 426 Bridge St.

Windham
Feb. 1: 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Windham Weaponry, 999 Roosevelt Trail

Yarmouth
Feb. 12: Noon-5 p.m., American Legion Post 91, 196 Main St.

Franklin County

Jay
Feb. 9: Noon-4:30 p.m., St. Rose of Lima, 1 Church St.

Kennebec County
Augusta
Feb. 5: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., MaineGeneral Medical Center, 35 Medical Center Parkway
Feb. 9: 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Kennebec Valley YMCA, 31 Union St.

Belgrade
Feb. 13: 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Belgrade Center for All Seasons, 1 Center Drive

Waterville
Feb. 5: 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Waterville Elks, 76 Industrial Road

Winthrop
Feb. 4: 1-6 p.m., Saint Francis Church, 130 Route 133

Oxford County

Buckfield
Feb. 9: Noon-4:30 p.m., Masonic Lodge, 5 High St.

Oxford
Feb. 15: 1-5:30 p.m., Hosanna Church, 109 Schoolhouse Road

Piscataquis County

Dover Foxcroft
Feb. 4 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Piscataquis Regional YMCA, 48 Park St.

Sagadahoc County

Bath
Feb. 11: 11 a.m.-4 p.m., YMCA, 303 Centre St.

Topsham
Feb. 1: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., American Legion Post 202, 79 Foreside Road
Feb. 2: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., ARC Mid Coast Chapter, 16 Community Way

York County

Biddeford
Feb. 8: 1-6 p.m., Biddeford Eagles, 57 Birch St.

Cornish
Feb. 11: 2-6 p.m., Greenleaf Masonic Lodge 117, 142 Maple St.
Feb. 15: 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Bay Haven Lobster Pound, 101 Maple St.

Kennebunk
Feb. 2: Noon-5 p.m., Kennebunk Masons, 159 Alfred Road

Lebanon
Feb. 13: 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Lebanon Fire and EMS, 3 Upper Cross Road

Saco
Feb. 12: 1-6 p.m., Saco Sport & Fitness, 329 North St.

Sanford
Feb. 13: 10 a.m. 3 p.m., Mason Preble 143, 16 Elm St.

Springvale
Feb. 8: 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Nasson Community Center, 457 Main St.

Wells
Feb. 3: Noon-4:30 p.m., Saint Mary’s Church, 236 Eldridge Road

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.

To make an appointment to give blood, platelets or plasma with the Red Cross, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.