Published August 17, 2005
LOS ANGELES – The Red Cross, faced with a shortage of blood donations, has found an unusual way to get potential donors to their doorstep.
Across the country, some chapters of the Red Cross have begun offering incentives including raffles for free iPods (search), vacations, free gas cards and free meals in an attempt to increase the nation’s blood supply.
“It's a nice plus,” said blood donor Chris Kyte. “I've gotten T-shirts and Baskin-Robbins certificates today, I think it's very nice.”
“Studies show that far and away the reason that most people give blood is because they think this is the right thing to do,” said Stephen Whitburn of the Red Cross.
“The second most common reason is because they heard there was a blood shortage (search). For about 5 or 6 percent of the population, they are motivated to come in and donate blood in part because they heard there was a promotion, and we want those people to come in and donate blood as well,” he said.
In addition to offering prizes, the Red Cross is also relaxing some of its screening rules to widen the potential donor pool, including extending the length of time some donors can have lived in Europe and still give blood. But the Red Cross says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (search) has approved all changes to the guidelines for blood donations to ensure that the blood supply remains safe.
The Red Cross admits it doesn't know what impact the new standards and incentives will have on blood donation, but the organization hopes it will make a difference.
“It gives people an extra reason to pick up the phone and make an appointment to give blood,” said Whitburn.
Click in the Video box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Anita Vogel.