A new app released by the American Red Cross Tuesday will put “the power to save lives in the palm of your hand,” said Kimberly Houk, spokeswoman for the Red Cross.
The app, which Houk calls the first of its kind, will remind blood donors when they are eligible to safely donate, allow them to schedule donations and even receive rewards and discounts for donating.
“We’re always looking for more donors and to get the word out,” Houk said. “We’re (launching the app) so that we can help donors keep in mind the need to always constantly think, every 56 days I’m eligible to donate blood again.”
The app can also track a donor’s lifetime impact of donations.
“It’s going to calculate for you how many lives you can potentially save with each donation,” she said. “And it’s going to track them over a lifetime once you set up your profile.”
Jordan Nielson frequently donates and said it would be “awesome” to see just how much blood he has given.
“You figure you can save up to three lives with every blood donation you give,” he said. “I feel like you would maybe get a bigger sense of fulfillment knowing how much good you’re really doing by donating so often.”
Other features of the app include a donation center locator, stories from donors and recipients, and the ability to connect with other donors.
“It also gives you the opportunity to do some kind of social media networking where you can invite your friends to join you on a lifesaving team,” Houk said. “You can take selfies with it, get people excited about giving back and understanding the importance of being blood donors.”
Though he loves to donate now, Nielson said that wasn’t always the case.
“Before, I would have avoided it,” he said.
He recalls being nervous for his first blood donation, but with the support and encouragement of friends he was able to do it. Now, he said it doesn’t faze him at all.
Nielson said the app, which can connect others and has reading material for first-timers, would be very helpful.
“It brings awareness and support for people who may be scared, and I think that’s a great thing.”
Houk said the Red Cross hoped to have 120,000 downloads of the app Tuesday.
To download the app, users can search the app store for American Red Cross, visiting redcross.org/apps or redcrossblood.org/bloodapp. Users can also text BLOODAPP to 90999 for a direct link to the download.
Those without a smartphone can schedule an appointment to give blood by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or visiting the Red Cross website.
The American Red Cross collects 15,000 pints of blood each day across the U.S.
Houk said the Red Cross collects and distributes about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply.