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When Emergencies Call, the Red Cross Answers

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 12:05

By Heather Fay, American Red Cross, Services to the Armed Forces – Outreach and Education

As a military spouse of over 20 years, I liked to think I had always been aware of the American Red Cross and the services it offers military families. Over my husband’s Navy career, we were fortunate to never need to file an emergency message, so the Red Cross existed in the periphery of my military world among the other services available to military families.

When my husband became a ship commander and I felt a sense of responsibility to the families of the crew, or our ‘ship family,’ Red Cross support was something that moved a little closer to the forefront of my consciousness. More than one of our families needed to use messaging services and many (including my own) began working toward natural disaster preparedness with the help of Red Cross staff and volunteers. It wasn’t until our third overseas tour, to Yokosuka, Japan, that it became clear to me how much Red Cross services are needed when the unexpected happens.

First, we used Red Cross support to develop a preparedness brief for possible events on and around our base in Japan. For example, we practiced a family evacuation in the event any credible threats from a North Korea missile strike.

However, Japan in 2017 brought more than threats of missile strikes when our military community woke one morning to the news that one of our ships had been involved in a collision at sea with a commercial vessel. Immediately, the base community sprang into action to take care of whatever our military families needed. Red Cross employees and volunteers alike were there distributing information, helping the emergency response center field endless calls from the States and doing countless other things to serve our people. Those intense first hours and days led to a summer where the community banded together to support those who needed it, however they needed it. Service to one another was part of our new reality.

When my family returned to the United States in late 2017, memories of the summer were still fresh. Armed with experience and a recently earned Master of Public Health, I began to search for employment. After a short time, a position with Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) in Outreach and Education announced itself on LinkedIn and the decision to apply was an incredibly easy one. The recent service to my military community had opened my eyes to the need for increased awareness of what all Red Cross lines of service have to offer the military community. Being personally prepared for a natural disasteror security emergency meant it was easier to predict what others might need in moments of danger, tragedy and loss. Once officially on the Red Cross SAF team, I began promoting not just emergency messaging, but preparedness and our resiliency programs as well. That summer in Japan, I learned building a resiliency tool kit is deeply important to the well-being of a military community – even one as small as a single military family. Spreading the word of what the Red Cross SAF has offered to our military and their families is the single most satisfying thing I have experienced in my time as a Red Crosser.


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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Meet Angela Zeng

Tue, 05/14/2019 - 14:20

This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we’re highlighting men and women who play an important role in helping the American Red Cross fulfill its humanitarian mission every day. This week, we’d like to feature Angela Zeng, a dedicated Red Cross volunteer and member of our National Youth Council. Here is a conversation we had with her around Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and the importance of giving back.

Why is your Asian Pacific American heritage important to you?

My Asian heritage is a constant reminder of the sacrifices my immigrant parents made to build a life here. To me, my Chinese heritage means understanding Chinese culture and traditions and preserving the values that have shaped me into who I am.

Why do you believe Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is important?

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a reminder to our country of the history and challenges faced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. It is a celebration of their contributions to society and an opportunity for people to learn about their culture and communities.

How and why did you get involved with the Red Cross?

I joined my high school’s Red Cross Club in order to volunteer at blood drives. From there, I found my passion to serve my community not only through organizing blood drives, but by teaching disaster preparedness, fundraising for disaster relief, installing smoke alarms and helping in any way I could. As I got more involved with my Red Cross chapter, I grew to appreciate the leadership development opportunities the Red Cross offered and was inspired to guide other youth to become service-oriented leaders in our community. I am now a member of the National Youth Council, continuing to advocate for youth volunteers and promote youth involvement in the Red Cross.

What is one thing you’d tell your 20-year old self?

Giving back to the community means doing what I can with my time, ability and resources to improve the lives of people around me. In whichever way I am serving, knowing that I am allowing someone to be happier, healthier or more prepared for the future makes my heart full. Reflecting on everything I’ve been blessed with in my life motivates me to continue serving the needs of others with a cheerful attitude.

How would you encourage others to get involved with the Red Cross or in their communities?

If you are a high school student, I would encourage you to join the Red Cross Club at your school. Otherwise, contact your local Red Cross region to find out about various volunteer opportunities. There are so many ways you can serve your community if you are willing to seek them out. From volunteering at a veterans hospital to writing thank you cards to blood donors, there is always a need that you can fulfill. Volunteering in your community is one of the most rewarding things you can do with your time – go out and don’t be afraid to try something new!

What is your proudest life or Red Cross achievement?

I never would have imagined myself as a leader in any sort of capacity. But volunteering with the Red Cross opened me up to connecting with others and gave me a passion to contribute to society by putting my ideas into action. My journey from being a Red Cross Club member to president, to Youth Council chair, to National Youth Council member was unforeseen and it is something I am both humbled by and exceedingly thankful for. The creative, passionate and hardworking individuals I work with on the National Youth Council are some of the most driven and inspiring people I’ve met, and being able to strive toward new accomplishments with them is my proudest achievement.

Become a Volunteer

You can learn how to become a volunteer like Angela by visiting

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Mom Paid it Forward as Blood Donor Years Before Needing Lifesaving Transfusions

Fri, 05/10/2019 - 07:44

Joanna Suprock received 16 units of blood, 10 units of plasma and four units of platelets. 

A mother’s love is often considered to be at the apex of affection and selfless care. When Joanna Suprock shares her pregnancy journey and birthing story, she expresses how her baby’s health was paramount. Her own well-being was an afterthought, even when being rushed into the operating room immediately following the delivery of her now 10 month-old-son Edgar. Last July, euphoria quickly turned into an emergency need for 16 units of blood, 10 units of plasma and four units of platelets after parts of her placenta had remained attached to the uterine wall during delivery.  

Joanna had never required blood products with her previous deliveries and thought she knew what to expect, but this time she could feel a big difference. “I’d been through this two other times, and I [knew] what kind of pain to expect, what was normal. I didn’t have any epidural, so I could feel everything, but with the contractions and pushing and everything, it was the most painful thing I had ever experienced,” said Suprock. Later is was confirmed that she had placenta accreta, where the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine wall and makes childbirth more painful; causing severe blood loss after delivery.  

After Years of Paying it Forward, Mom Receives Lifesaving Blood  

For years Joanna has been a blood donor—giving close to one and a half gallons of blood—to help those in need. She never thought she would be one of those patients in need. However, her recent experience provides a new perspective. “You know it’s a good thing to do, but you don’t understand how meaningful and how helpful it is to someone that really needs it in an emergency. I’m very grateful because I wouldn’t be here if that blood wasn’t available. I don’t think I was really in the position where I could wait to get blood. If there wasn’t enough blood there for me, I don’t think I would’ve been saved,” assured Suprock.  

Blood Products Help to Give Life and Save Lives During Birth 

Over the last decade, the percentage of women who need a lifesaving blood transfusion around the time they give birth has increased by 183 percent. According to Dr. Jennifer Andrews, a pediatric hematologist and one of the medical directors at the Vanderbilt blood bank, recalls how childbirth can create a need for multiple blood products in large quantities. “After a woman delivers a baby, she’ll have such severe bleeding that won’t stop when she’s delivering the placenta. These otherwise healthy young women, who are just delivering healthy babies, need massive amounts of blood products very quickly. So they’ll often use hundreds of units of red blood cells, perhaps hundreds of units of fresh, frozen plasma, perhaps tens of units of platelets, and then also cryoprecipitate.”  

In lieu of gifts and flowers this Mother’s Day, please consider donating blood in honor of a mom in your life. Type O negative blood is the universal blood type. It can be used in transfusions for any blood type and is routinely in short supply and in high demand by hospitals – both because it is the most common blood type and because type O negative blood is the universal blood type needed for emergency transfusions.  

Help make a difference for a patient, a mom, or a family in need by scheduling a donation appointment today at, using the Blood Donor App or Amazon’s Alexa by saying, “Alexa, find a blood drive.” To speed up the donation process, complete a RapidPass online health history questionnaire at, on mobile devices and through the Red Cross Blood Donor App

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Mary M.A. Weiss: A Fearless Red Cross Nurse

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 18:48

Mary M. A. Weiss, a New York resident, was a fearless woman who twice braved the dangers of World War I as a Red Cross nurse.

Weiss documented her experiences in scrapbooks (shown below), photos and personal remembrances. Her archival materials are now in the historical collection of the Red Cross in Greater New York.

Weiss’ passport signed by Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan. Sails On First Mercy Ship Mary M. A. Weiss, left, and with her nurse shipmates onboard the S. S. Red Cross.

On Sept. 12, 1914, after the beginning of World War I, Weiss, along with 126 other members of the Red Cross Nursing Service and 30 surgeons, sailed on the S. S. Red Cross. Onboard the ship were medical supplies to aid the wounded civilians and combatants on both sides of the conflict. Although the nurses volunteered to go overseas, they were paid for their work.

Turns Theater Into Hospital

Weiss’ team was bound for the German town of Gleiwitz in southern Prussia, now part of Poland. Upon her arrival, she helped convert the town’s Viktoria Theater into a hospital for treating wounded German soldiers. The team transformed the theater’s downstairs lobby into a 62-bed ward, with 16 more beds in an upper reception room.

Weiss’ souvenir postcard of the Viktoria Theater exterior.

By the end of Weiss’ year-long service, the hospital had moved to a larger concert hall space with 140 beds and treated 1,527 soldiers. She returned home in September 1915, and for her nursing service, Weiss received a medal from the German government.

Letter from Jane Delano to Weiss announcing her German medal. Braves Danger Second Time

After the United States entered the war, Weiss volunteered to return to Europe to care for wounded American soldiers.

Weiss and a group of volunteer nurses set out on July 29, 1917, bound for France. The next day their ship Saratoga was rammed by the Panama while in New York Harbor and sank after all had evacuated.

A week later, she set off on the Finland for U.S. Army Base Hospital No. 8 in Savenay. By November 1918, the hospital had 2,460 beds for wounded soldiers and 35,244 sick and wounded were cared for at the facility.

Weiss transferred in June 1918 to Evacuation Hospital No. 1 in northeastern France. Evacuation hospitals gave preliminary surgical care before patients evacuated to a base hospital for more complicated procedures. Most evacuation hospitals were situated safely nine to 15 miles from the front, but No. 1 was a mere seven miles from the battle line.

Following her work, Weiss returned to the United States in March 1919.

Red Cross Nursing Service Today Volunteer nurses assist during Hurricane Irma 2017.

Like Mary Weiss 100 years ago, more than 20,000 Red Cross volunteer nurses serve in disaster response, health and safety instruction, biomedical and blood services, and in service to military families. To learn about Red Cross nursing opportunities, contact

Learn more about Red Cross history on

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National Nurses Week: Meet Nurse Volunteer Sydney Slusser

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 05:55

Konnichiwa! My name is Sydney Slusser. I am a Registered Nurse (RN) currently living with my husband and two cats, Emma and Quincy, in Iwakuni, Japan.  I was born in South Carolina, raised in Virginia, and went to Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina, where I lived my dream of playing NCAA softball and receiving my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. You could say my senior year of college was not a typical one, but it was one of the most exciting and rewarding years of my life. I got married, graduated, passed my nursing boards, and moved to Japan!

Currently, I am a volunteer RN at the Branch Health Clinic on base. Moving here shortly after graduating prevented me from having the experience required to be qualified for any of the few nursing positions available. Luckily, I began the process of becoming a Red Cross volunteer soon after arriving. I was quickly welcomed by the Red Cross staff. They were so incredibly helpful to me during the process of getting into the clinic. I was welcomed by the amazing staff and was quickly put to work in the Family Practice answering telephone consults, giving injections, medication refills, and many other tasks. After a few months, I was able to join the Acute Care Center (urgent care) where I give more hands-on patient care. For now, this is as close as I can get to my emergency room nurse passion.

I’ve always enjoyed helping people while also challenging myself to continue to learn in a quick-paced environment. I can’t remember the exact moment I wanted to be a nurse, but it was sometime in early high school that I set that goal for myself. I had (and still have) a passion for the Emergency Room and Labor and Delivery. Although I feel a part of the medical team now, I still have hope I can one day become an employed nurse at the clinic.

My husband and I are just over one and a half years into our time here and I can say it was the best thing that could’ve happened for us. I’ve been able to gain so much nursing experience while being able to become “disaster ready” with the Red Cross. I’ve volunteered with the Red Cross for over 1,200 hours in the past 10 months. By being in Japan, I’ve had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world (literally), teach English to Japanese adults, coach the high school softball team, and travel to six countries.

I will forever be grateful for the opportunity the Red Cross has given to me and plan to stay involved at our next duty station. I plan to dive further into Disaster Relief training so I can be a helping hand during national disasters. My advice to any military spouse that may be in a similar situation with their career is to stay positive, connect with your local Red Cross and look for all available resources in your area. Even though joining the Red Cross was never on my “to-do list,” I couldn’t be more fortunate to be a part of such a great team here in Iwakuni, Japan.

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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Meet June Maeva

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 06:21

This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we’re highlighting men and women who play an important role in helping the American Red Cross fulfill its humanitarian mission every day. This week, we’d like to feature June Maeva, a dedicated Red Cross volunteer in American Samoa. Here is a conversation we had with her around Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and the importance of giving back.

Why is your Pacific American heritage important to you?

The Pacific American heritage is a rich culture of traditions and customs passed down from one generation to the next. Our Samoan culture teaches respect, “fa’aaloalo” in our language and is shown in the way we conduct ourselves. Our Samoan culture is also about the act of service which expresses and shows our love, “alofa,” towards our elders, families, villages and our community.

How and why did you get involved with the Red Cross?

During the aftermath of a 2009 tsunami, my children and I were here in American Samoa. There we helped my uncle, who works with the American Red Cross, clean up some of the damage and debris in the village of Leone. I had always wanted to be a part of the organization, but was too busy and worked full-time as a teacher. In February 2018, I registered to volunteer with the American Red Cross- American Samoa chapter.

What does it mean for you to give back?

The act of service gives me peace. It gives me a sense of purpose and gratitude. The American Red Cross allows me to continue teaching, to be a part of the action in solution, prevention and planning.

 What is one thing you’d tell your 20-year old self?

I was living in the farming and agriculture area of Tulare, California, at the time. I was working full-time and raising my family, but my heart longed to be back here in American Samoa. I would tell that young mother and woman, you will have time, energy and an opportunity to volunteer and serve your people.

More good things are about to come!

What is your most memorable moment with the Red Cross?

I remember two days before Tropical Storm Gita in 2018, I was called to respond to a flood on the far east end of the island. We arrived to help a family of 10 receive aid and assistance. When we got in the house, we saw three children, ages 18 months to three years old, who were sitting on the kitchen table to avoid the 14 inches of rain water that flooded their home. I’ll never forget the look on their mother’s face when they received help and relief. Hugging her gave me comfort that I am where I am supposed to be.

Become a Volunteer

You can learn how to become a volunteer like June by visiting

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From Home Fire Survivor to Volunteer: Jesennia Rodriguez’s Story

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 13:57

During the Northeast Blackout in August of 2003, six-year-old Kevin struck a match to find his way in the dark. That night, Kevin passed away in a home fire, leaving his mother, Jesennia Rodriguez, devastated. Jesennia vowed to help ensure other families don’t experience the pain she endured after losing her child. Read on to learn how Jesennia honors that vow as a Red Cross home fire volunteer.

Becoming a Volunteer

Jesennia became a Red Cross volunteer in June 2017, helping to provide comfort and care to disaster survivors across New York City and across the country. Shortly after, she learned about the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, which was created in 2014 to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries in the U.S.

From that moment on, she knew she wanted to become a home fire volunteer. In this role, she helps install smoke alarms and educate families about the importance of fire safety and prevention across New York City.

Making a Difference

Because of her personal experience with a home fire, Jesennia is able to connect with families on a deeper level. Hearing her story helps families put into perspective just how many people are affected by the country’s most common disaster. And Jesennia feels a strong sense of accomplishment with every home that she enters because she knows she’s making a difference.

“I feel accomplished just knowing that I’ve helped change how families think about home fire safety and make their homes safer,” said Rodriguez.

Her work with home fires is also beneficial because she views her time volunteering as part of her healing process. And knowing that there are young children and elderly people in homes without working smoke alarms motivates her to keep going.

A Common Goal

Jesennia has also found a support system in her fellow volunteers who have become more like family members with each passing day.

“We treat each other like family, and we take care of one another. Everyone is so positive and it’s a welcoming environment because we’re all working toward the same goal to help keep families safe,” Rodriguez said.

Join Us

To date, Jesennia has helped make hundreds of families safer across New York City. Join volunteers like Jesennia in their fight to #EndHomeFires by signing up for one of our Sound the Alarm events to install smoke alarms and help raise lifesaving funds.

One day of your life can change someone else’s forever.

A Special Thanks to Our National Partners

This work is made possible thanks to generous support from national partners: Airbnb, Delta Air Lines, Farmers Insurance and Nissan North America.

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Jane A. Delano: Pioneer of the Modern Nursing Profession

Fri, 04/26/2019 - 12:02

This month we celebrated Jane A. Delano’s contributions to the Red Cross and the field of nursing, with a wreath laying at Arlington National Cemetery. A pioneer of the modern nursing profession and member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Delano founded the Red Cross nursing service in 1909 creating a vital force that uplifted lives with compassion and professional skill. Under Delano’s guidance and legacy, nurses became a national symbol volunteering for service in war and disaster, creating programs for emergency response and advancing health care programs.

Jane’s Early Life and Career

Born on March 12, 1862, in Townsend, New York, Jane Delano’s father George Delano fought and died in the Civil War. He left Jane, her sister Ada and his wife Mary Ann behind. In 1884, Jane enrolled in Bellevue Nursing School completing her degree by 1886. Her early public service nursing included the 1888 Jacksonville, Florida, yellow fever epidemic and caring for typhoid patients at a copper mine in Bisbee, Arizona. Both experiences underscored the need for health education and social services in rural communities.

Volunteering with the Red Cross

By 1898, Jane was volunteering with the New York Red Cross Society recruiting nurses for the Spanish American war. Once again, a clear need arose, this time for a reserve of trained nurses. All these experiences later influenced Jane’s work with the Red Cross Nursing Service where she put her ideas regarding a nursing reserve and health education into motion.

Jane’s professional influence grew and by 1909, she was the Superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps and simultaneously served as the Chairman of the National Committee on Red Cross Nursing Service, President of the American Nurses Association, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Journal of Nursing. Under Jane’s leadership, the Red Cross Nursing Service became the recognized nursing reserve for the Army, Navy, and the Public Health Service.

By 1912, Delano resigned from the Army Nurse Corps and volunteered full-time for the Red Cross. Jane promoted Red Cross nursing, increasing enrollment that resulted in 8,000 nurses ready for assignment when the U.S. entered World War I in 1917. By the end of the war, over 20,000 nurses were recruited.

Honoring Jane

In 1919, a few months after the end of World War I, Jane sailed to France to check on her remaining nurses. While there, she became ill and passed away on April 15, 1919. It was a sudden and tragic loss to the nursing profession. Originally buried in Savenay, France, she was later interred at Arlington National Cemetery in September 1920.

To honor Jane’s life, quality of leadership, and clarity of vision, the Red Cross and the Daughters of the American Revolution co-hosted a wreath-laying ceremony at the cemetery on April 13, 2019. We are grateful for Jane’s meaningful contributions to the Red Cross and the field of nursing.

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Who Blood Tranfusions Help: Layla Wigmore’s Story

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 06:00

Layla Wigmore is an 8-year-old, third grader with a big smile and a big heart for helping others. In March 2018, she was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia, a rare condition where the body is unable to produce blood cells – red cells, white cells and platelets, causing Layla to need help from others to sustain her need for up to three units of blood each day. To date, Layla has received donated stem cells from her brother Cooper, as well as over 200 blood transfusions from donations made by generous blood donors. Layla’s fight against severe aplastic anemia isn’t over and she may need more blood transfusions in the future.

“Layla was in desperate need of blood due to her illness,” said Tina Wigmore, Layla’s mother. “Layla made it a goal to inspire others while at the hospital and encourages others by bringing joy to their lives.”

You can follow Layla’s journey on Facebook here.

How to Donate Blood

Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or learn more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients.

If you come to give blood with the Red Cross by April 30, you will be entered for a chance to win a full-size Iron Throne from HBO’s Game of Thrones! Learn more at In addition, all donors who come to give from April 11-30 will also be given an exclusive Bleed For The Throne poster, while supplies last. Don’t miss out on your chance to help save lives and get these exclusive items.

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How To: Use Red Cross Skills on Your Alexa-Enabled Devices

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 06:00

Do you have an Alexa-enabled device at home? Well, we have good news for you! This month, the American Red Cross is launching three skills for Amazon Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices. These skills will make it easier for you and your loved ones to access Red Cross services when you need them.

Learn about our Red Cross skills and follow these steps to enable them in the Amazon Alexa app.

Schedule Your Next Blood Donation Appointment with Alexa

The first skill, the Red Cross Blood Scheduling skill, can help blood donors like you:

  • Find the nearest blood drives
  • Schedule your next blood, platelet or Power Red donation appointment
  • Update or change existing donation appointments
  • Learn about your past donations
  • Get timely notifications about your upcoming appointment so you don’t miss it

Once this skill is enabled (instructions below), all you have to do is link it to your Red Cross blood donor account, and you’ll be ready to get your next appointment on the books.

First Aid Skills for Everyday Emergencies

With the Red Cross First Aid skill, you can:

  • Get step-by-step instructions to help you deal with incidents that require first aid
  • Test your first aid knowledge with an interactive quiz
  • Delve deeper into different first aid topics in the FAQ section

Get Hurricane Alerts for Areas You Care About

Using the Hurricane Alerts skill, you can:

  • Stay up to date on the latest hurricane alerts in locations that matter to you in the U.S.
  • Get notified about hurricane watches and warnings; Alexa will light up and chime to let you know that a hurricane alert has been issued for the locations you’re keeping an eye on.
  • Learn quick and essential steps that show you what to do if a hurricane watch or warning affects you or your loved ones

How to Enable Red Cross Skills on the Amazon Alexa App
  1. Open the Amazon Alexa App on your device
  2. In the menu, select “Skills & Games”
  3. Select the search tool (magnifying glass icon)
  4. Search “American Red Cross”
  5. There, the skills will be listed and available for launch
  6. For the First Aid skill, for example, select “First Aid by American Red Cross”
  7. Then select “Enable to Use” and wait while the app enables the skill
  8. Once the app has enabled the skill, you’re ready to get started
Opening the Red Cross Skills

After enabling the skills on your device, just open the Red Cross skill of your choice and use prompts like the ones listed below.

  • For the Blood Scheduling skill, you can say, “Alexa, find a drive.”
  • If you’re interested in learning first aid, you can open the First Aid skill and ask, “Alexa, what are the symptoms of asthma?”
  • Hurricane alerts can be set up via the Hurricane Alert skill by saying “Alexa, ask Hurricane alerts to add a location.”

Remember, while the Red Cross Skills can help prepare you for an emergency, it’s important to note that this is not a substitute for training or seeking help from a medical professional.

For more information about American Red Cross skills for Alexa-enabled devices, visit

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Game of Thrones: Your Last Chance to Bleed #ForTheThrone and Win

Fri, 04/12/2019 - 10:17

The day we’ve been anxiously waiting for over the last year is finally here. In a matter of hours, the season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones will air on HBO, and we couldn’t be more ecstatic.

Bleed #ForTheThrone?

Part of the reason is because this year the American Red Cross teamed up with Game of Thrones and HBO to encourage fans to Bleed #ForTheThrone and donate blood to help patients in need. Anyone who came to give from Feb. 19 to March 17, was entered for a chance to win a trip to the season 8 world premiere on April 3, in New York City. Read on to hear about one blood donor’s experience at the Game of Thrones season 8 world premiere, as well as how you can still be entered for a chance win a full-size Iron Throne!

Season 8 Premiere

Playol Shippey III, a long-time blood donor and one of the five Game of Thrones season 8 world premiere sweepstakes winners, attended the event with his wife at Radio City Music Hall. According to him, they started reading the “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series back in 2008, and they’ve been hooked ever since. So when he found out he could donate blood, something he already enjoys doing, for a chance to see the premiere of a show he loves, the decision was a no-brainer. And needless to say, their experience at the premiere was definitely one for the books. At the premiere, the couple got to meet some of our favorite Game of Thrones characters and even snagged photos with some of them.

Although the opportunity to attend the premiere has passed, our Game of Thrones partnership is still going strong. If you come to give blood with the Red Cross by April 30, you will be entered for a chance to win a full-size Iron Throne from HBO’s Game of Thrones! Learn more at In addition, all donors who come to give from April 11-30 will also be given an exclusive Bleed For The Throne poster, while supplies last. Don’t miss out on your chance to help save lives and get these exclusive items.

Give Today

Donating blood is a simple process and only takes about an hour from start to finish, but the actual donation itself only takes about eight to ten minutes. Don’t believe us? Take it from Playol.

“I have been a Red Cross donor for 26 years now and donate every time I can. Giving blood doesn’t take long, but makes a huge impact to those in need. I am proud to be a Red Cross donor and it feels great to know that lives are impacted and saved through my donations.”

Make your appointment today by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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QUIZ: What Do You Know About Platelets?

Wed, 04/10/2019 - 11:44

Most people have heard of donating blood, but they haven’t heard about giving platelets. In fact, many people don’t even know what platelets are or who they can help. Do you?

Take this quick five-question quiz to find out how much you know about platelets and how platelet donors help save lives.

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Platelet donation is available at select Red Cross blood donation centers. Make your appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Those who present to donate blood or platelets April 1-30 will automatically be entered for a chance to win a full-size Iron Throne from HBO’s Game of Thrones. Terms and conditions apply, and are available at Additionally, those who donate between April 11-30 are eligible to receive a Bleed For The Throne poster, while supplies last. 

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What it Means to be the Child of a Service Member

Thu, 04/04/2019 - 10:38

When you ask military children where they’re from, they usually respond with clarifying questions like, “Oh, do you mean where I was born, where I was last stationed, where I lived the longest, or where I loved living the most?” This is one of several ways to identify a military child.

Military children have a number of distinctions: how they stop everything at 17:00 to stand for retreat, their instinct to stand for the national anthem at the movie theatre and their tendency to call all grocery stores the commissary. However, a military child is not just a military child in his or her behaviors; being a military child completely shapes you and identifies your very foundation.

Military children are strong as a result of the sacrifices they are asked to make, adaptable due to moving whenever the orders are received, and resilient because of the many times they are asked to say goodbye to friends and schools and start over yet again. Not only do they move duty stations, but they often say goodbye to their mothers and fathers for up to a year when deployment orders come.

One might think that asking this sacrifice of young children would result in a growing sense of resentment towards the military, but for many it does quite the opposite. These sacrifices and a parent’s service to the United States foster a sense of pride in being an American and a part of the military community. Military children understand the sacrifices of service and respect the dedication it requires.

My name is Aidan Wright, and I am a military child. If you were to ask me where I am from, I would respond in the typical military kid fashion: I was born in New York, my family was last stationed in Ft. Hood, Texas, but the longest I ever lived anywhere was three years in Tampa, Florida. Stuttgart, Germany, has been my favorite duty station. I am a currently a senior at Stuttgart High School in Stuttgart, Germany. This is my second high school, making this my 11th move in 17 years.

I have always been proud of being a military child. Not to say the journey has not been hard, because trust me, saying goodbye never gets easier. Every time my dad deployed I was proud he was serving our country. Every time we moved I was proud that it was for a greater cause.

 Growing up on military posts, I have always been surrounded by military service members, I saw their dedication every day and I learned to serve from them. I looked for ways I could show my appreciation for their service, and chose to volunteer with the American Red Cross, feeling a special connection to the branch of their mission that provides service to the armed forces.

I have been a Red Cross volunteer for the past two years, became president of the American Red Cross Youth Club at my school, Vice President of the European Youth Council, and have led multiple projects geared toward service to the armed forces.

 As I entered my senior year, I realized that the time for me to leave the military community and the lifestyle I had fallen in love with, was quickly approaching. Personally, I can’t imagine any other lifestyle than the one that made up my entire childhood. For me, no other career could be as fulfilling and as meaningful, so I made the decision to follow my father’s footsteps and apply to the United States Military Academy at West Point. I received my appointment to West Point this January, and I look forward to emulating the lessons of duty, honor, and dedication to my country that I learned from the service members I grew up surrounded by as a military child.

Service to the Armed Forces

To learn more about how the Red Cross supports military and veteran families, visit

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A Disaster in My Own Backyard

Tue, 04/02/2019 - 06:21

April Oppliger with the Lemus family outside of the Red Cross shelter.

When disasters happen, the American Red Cross is there to bring help and hope. This March, it was the people of my home state of Nebraska who needed the Red Cross in the wake of historic flooding.

As a Red Cross Blood Services employee, I have supported the life-changing work of the Red Cross for the past 10 years. But on Saturday, March 16 – my first day off since flood waters threatened my community – I volunteered to help with the disaster response and got to see the impact of the Red Cross firsthand.

I was assigned to a Red Cross shelter for those displaced by the floods. It was just opening that afternoon at a church in Bellevue, Nebraska.

Not long after I arrived, a family of four entered the building. They had just made the tough decision to evacuate their neighborhood – leaving behind everything but what they could fit in their car. For 8-year-old Lily Lemus, that meant that she grabbed a couple treasured toys, her cheerleading uniform and a few changes of clothes. For 15-year-old JJ Lemus, that meant packing his soccer gear and his video gaming system.

Their mom, Lisa Widman, likened the experience of leaving their home to putting a beloved pet to sleep. You know it’s time. You know it’s the right thing to do. But your heart breaks.

“You’re looking at your house. You’re walking out the door and knowing you’re probably not going to have a house anymore.”

Entering the shelter, the family’s emotions were raw while they waited to find out if flood waters would touch their home, which they were only $3,600 away from paying off. They had to make a difficult decision – spend money on a hotel, which they couldn’t afford for long, or stay at the shelter. I encouraged the family to take a few moments to rest and have something to eat while they mulled over their choices.

It wasn’t much longer before Lily would bring a cell phone to me to show me video footage a neighbor sent them of the water around their house. She burst into tears – the water was almost up to the roof. I couldn’t reassure her that everything was going to be OK, but I could hug her back and provide emotional support.

The Lemus family decided to stay at the shelter. The accommodations were simple – cots, blankets, pillows, hot meals and showers – but they helped fill JJ with a sense of safety, relief and hope.

JJ and Lily play a game at the Red Cross shelter.

“You don’t have to worry about a roof over your head or food on the table,” he said.

For Juan Lemus, the support of the Red Cross meant that his family wasn’t alone.

“You guys have been unbelievable since the moment I walked in with my family,” said Juan. “We were treated with respect, love and kindness. I’m glad I’m here with my family. You guys turned nothing into something.”

You can help provide hope and relief items, like food, shelter and other essentials for people like the Lemus family, by visiting or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

April Oppliger with Lily and JJ Lemus.

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Red Cross Employee Uses First Aid Training to Help Save Son’s Life

Fri, 03/29/2019 - 06:26
Shabazz Torres with his son, Elijah Torres (3) and his mother-in-law, Diana Pastula.

During Red Cross Month we celebrate heroes who use their Red Cross training to assist others in an emergency. Red Cross Training Services employee, Shabazz Torres, is a Senior Digital Marketing Analyst whose work on the Red Cross website helps individuals find lifesaving training online and in their local communities. Shabazz never thought that his employment with the Red Cross would have such a monumental impact on his life.

A Gift to be Thankful For

On December 6, 2017, Shabazz received workplace training in American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED along with the rest of his team.

“In the back of my head I remember sitting there [in First Aid/CPR/AED class] like ‘Thanks but, I’m probably never going to need this. And lo and behold, I was actually in a situation where I had to use the skills I was taught to help save my son’s life,” said Shabazz.

On September 3, 2018, Shabazz was getting ready to leave for work like any other day. His three-year-old son, Elijah, was eating breakfast with his grandmother, Diana Pastula, as he headed for the door. Suddenly, a commotion came from the kitchen and Shabazz heard Diana calling for him. Shabazz threw down his work bag and immediately ran back to the kitchen where he found Elijah choking on his breakfast and Diana performing abdominal thrusts to help dislodge the food. Shabazz took hold of his son and started abdominal thrusts but, was unable to clear his son’s airway. Quickly, Shabazz turned Elijah over and started back blows. After a few blows the obstructed food fell to the floor and his son let out an audible cry.

“It ended up being a gift. It was in the back of my head somewhere – the instruction I received kicked in. I did it subconsciously, almost as if it was second nature to me just because I took the course through the Red Cross. It really made a difference that day,” said Shabazz.

Honored with Red Cross Lifesaving Awards

On February 28, 2019, Shabazz and Diana were presented with Red Cross Lifesaving Awards for their brave response to Elijah’s choking emergency. Shabazz received the Certificate of Merit, awarded to an individual who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in a Red Cross Training Services course. Diana was awarded the Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action, given to individuals who step up in an emergency and help save or sustain a life.

A Powerful Message

Based on his own experience, Shabazz encourages everyone, especially parents, to learn First Aid/CPR skills.

“For any parent it’s worth its weight in gold because you never know when you’ll need it, and you’ll be prepared” said Shabazz.

Red Cross training gives people the knowledge and skills to act in an emergency. A variety of online, blended (online and in-person skills session) and classroom courses are available at

If you or someone you know has used skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course to help save or sustain the life of another individual, visit to nominate, recognize, or be inspired.

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Red Cross Giving Day: Four Ways You Can Make an Impact

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 06:22

The fifth annual Red Cross Giving Day is only two days away! On Wednesday, March 27, we’re asking you to join us in helping families who have lost everything to a home fire or other disaster. Things like the roof over their heads, their clothes and their most cherished possessions. Although there are many ways to show your support on Giving Day, here are four ways to get involved and make an impact.

Take a Picture with our Giving Day Selfie Sign

Love taking selfies? Snag a photo with our Giving Day selfie sign and share why you’re supporting the Red Cross. Encourage your friends and family to join in too!

Enter for a Chance to See Some of Your Favorite Celebrities

By donating $10 to Red Cross disaster relief today through March 27, you could win a four-ticket prize pack to see Amy Grant and Vince Gill’s 12 Nights of Christmas Show at The Ryman in Nashville, Tennessee.


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Donate to the American Red Cross via the link in my bio and you’ll be entered to win a VIP experience at one of @amygrantofficial’s and Vince Gill’s Christmas shows at the Ryman Theatre. #help1family #donate #amygrant #redcross

A post shared by Amy Grant (@amygrantofficial) on Mar 12, 2019 at 11:59am PDT

Donating could also put you in the running to win lunch and a private ice-skating lesson with Olympic Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton at the Ford Ice Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

When you donate $10 to the @RedCross, you not only #Help1Family, but you’re also entering to win a VIP experience with me that includes a private ice skating lesson right here in #Nashville, TN!

Learn more & donate today:

— Scott Hamilton (@ScottHamilton84) March 19, 2019

Follow the Hashtag #help1family

Follow this hashtag for updates on Red Cross Giving Day activities across the country. You can also use the hashtag on your social media channels to get your networks involved.

Donate to Help a Family in Need

You can provide hope and relief items, like food, shelter and other essentials to people who need it most by visiting You can also text “GIVE” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

If we each #help1family, think of what we could do. About our Giving Day Supporters

The American Red Cross is grateful for those donors that are making an impact to #help1family by supporting our Giving Day. They include: the Energy Transfer/Sunoco Foundation and OnStar. Thanks to the kindness of these and other supporters, the Red Cross is able to provide hope and urgent relief to people when they need it most.

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How Your Blood Donation Can Help Save Lives

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 13:00

Every day, volunteer blood and platelet donors across the country are needed to help save lives. Eligible individuals can feel good knowing that by donating through the Red Cross, they may be helping patients not only in their community, but across the country. Patients like Vikas Mahajan, who needed blood transfusions during two major heart surgeries. Read on to learn how blood donations helped change his life and why he encourages others to donate blood.

A Childhood Illness

When Vikas was a child, he was diagnosed with a disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscle thickens so much that it becomes difficult to pump blood throughout the body. Unlike other children, he wasn’t able to run and play. While walking he often had to stop and catch his breath. As he grew older, his condition evolved into congestive heart failure, which became so severe over time that a heart transplant was his only solution. Unfortunately, when he needed a new heart, there weren’t any available, so he received a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) heart pump in the interim.

Complications during Surgery

During his heart pump operation in 2014, Vikas started bleeding excessively and doctors determined that he needed platelets to stop the bleeding. Platelets are tiny cells in your blood that form clots and stop bleeding. For millions of Americans, they are essential to surviving and fighting cancer, chronic diseases, and traumatic injuries.

“It made me aware of how important blood and platelet donations are during surgeries. Without the platelets I received, I might not have made it through that operation. That’s why it’s so critical for people to understand how blood products are used to save lives,” said Vikas.

The LVAD allowed Vikas to do more than he was able to do in the past. It allowed him to go back to work, and in 2015 he accepted a position with the American Red Cross as the senior director of Information Security Operations.

“The heart pump did a wonderful job. It certainly gave me my life back,” said Vikas. “I was able to go back to work. I could walk without getting short of breath, but still, I could never be separated from my heart pump. There were a lot of restrictions with it. So as wonderful as it was, I was looking forward to living a more complete and normal life with a new heart.”

A New Life

In July 2018, Vikas was notified that a new heart had become available. That month he received a heart transplant and required blood products again during surgery. Now at seven months post-transplant, he is able to do all of the active things he used to dream about.

“I’m able to do things now that I was never able to before because I didn’t have a heart that was strong enough. Now I can run, play, swim and enjoy the outdoors with my kids. I’m very excited about the new chance at life I’ve been given all thanks to organ and blood donations,” said Vikas.

Give Now and Give Often

Today, Vikas encourages everyone who is eligible to give blood to help save lives.

“Blood donations are critical to help save the lives of people you see every day. Whether it be friends, family members, or colleagues at work, they all will get touched by these donations in some way. My goal is to continue to educate and inform people about how donating blood can help change people’s lives for the better,” said Vikas.

Schedule your blood donation appointment today by using the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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Bleeding #ForTheThrone: Game of Thrones and the Red Cross Team Up at SXSW

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 15:45


To celebrate the final season of Game of Thrones, HBO and the American Red Cross partnered to ask fans and blood donors to Bleed #ForTheThrone this March.

The partnership also included an immersive blood drive experience at this year’s SXSW in Austin, Texas. Here, fans bent the knee for the throne and showed their bravery by making a blood donation to help patients battling illness and injury.

But the partnership isn’t limited to SXSW attendees in Austin. Those who roll up their sleeve March 7-12 will receive an exclusive Game of Thrones t-shirt. And those who come to give through March 17 will be automatically entered for a chance to win one of five trips to the season 8 world premiere of Game of Thrones.

Every day, the Red Cross must collect over 13,000 blood and 2,500 platelet donations for patients in need. Lifesaving blood products are needed every two seconds in the U.S. to help treat accident victims, cancer patients, children with blood disorders and others.

With thousands of blood donations uncollected due to severe weather over the past couple of months, we urge all eligible individuals to roll up a sleeve and give blood as soon as possible to ensure critical medical treatments or emergency care are not delayed or canceled. Donating blood is a simple process and only takes about an hour from start to finish, and the actual donation lasts just 8-10 minutes.

As Game of Thrones fans gear up for the Season 8 premiere, you can still participate by making an appointment to donate blood for the thousands of patients in-need every day. Find a drive near you here.

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Learn Lifesaving Skills with the Red Cross

Sun, 03/10/2019 - 14:00

At the Red Cross, we offer a variety of courses that cover topics ranging from first aid and performing CPR to water safety and babysitting skills. Each course was created to teach the lifesaving training and skills you need to help prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. This Red Cross Month, we’d like to highlight Brittany Ingenito, a senior at Kennesaw State University, who used her Red Cross training to help a man in need. Read on to learn what happened that day.

A Life-Changing Moment

On June 13, 2018, Brittany completed her Red Cross CPR training at her university. She had no idea that she would have to put her training to the test the very next day.

While driving to dinner, Brittany and her then boyfriend got stuck behind a line of cars. Curious about the cause of the pile up, the pair drove closer to the scene. With her window rolled down, Brittany was shocked to see a motorcyclist lying unconscious on the ground. One of his friends was holding his head up while another dialed 9-1-1. In that moment she knew what she needed to do.

Using Her Red Cross Training

Brittany asked her boyfriend to pull over and ran toward the motorcyclist. She told his friends that she was CPR certified and jumped into action. Next, she stabilized his head, checked his breathing and then started chest compressions. The motorcyclist’s friend who dialed 9-1-1 put the phone on speaker so Brittany could talk to the operator until the EMTs arrived.

“Even though my heart was racing, as soon as I saw the motorcyclist, I knew what I needed to do because of my training. When I started talking to the 9-1-1 operator, I felt calm. Since I was CPR certified, I knew I had to take charge of the situation and direct everyone until the EMTs got there,” said Brittany.

After Brittany had performed 130 chest compressions, the EMTs took over. Later she headed home to tell her mom what happened.

“My mom was in tears because she knew how hard that was for me to do. She was just so proud of me for being courageous and taking the time to stop and help someone in need,” said Brittany.

Being Honored for Bravery

On Jan. 25, 2019, Brittany was honored with the Red Cross Lifesaving Award and Certificate of Merit for her effort to help the injured motorcyclist. This award is the highest honor an individual can receive for performing an extraordinary act of bravery, compassion and service.

“It was an honor just to be recognized. I know how much time and effort the Red Cross puts into recognizing people who are certified,” Brittany said.

Today, Brittany encourages everyone to get certified in first aid and CPR so they have the knowledge and skills to act during emergencies.

“I tell my family and friends that getting certified is not only important just in case you have to perform CPR, but because you also learn crucial first aid skills that can help people with more minor injuries,” said Brittany.

Take a Training Class

Register to take a Red Cross training course at today to learn lifesaving skills for tomorrow.

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Celebrating Global Humanitarians on International Women’s Day

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 12:45
Julie, after setting up a satellite communications system in Nepal.

This International Women’s Day, we are celebrating women at the Red Cross who further our mission in communities across the globe every day. One of these women is Julie Bradley, a world traveler and author who has volunteered with our International Services division for the last 9 years. Read on to find out why Julie became a Red Cross volunteer and how she helps people stay connected during global disasters.

Hurricane Katrina

Julie first came in contact with the Red Cross in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina destroyed her parents’ home. She was clearing debris from the house, when she heard someone approaching. When she walked outside, she saw Red Cross volunteers in an emergency response vehicle. After having eaten granola bars for hours, she and her family welcomed the hot meals offered by the volunteers.

“The hot meals were most welcome, as well as getting to know the stories of the Red Cross volunteers from all over the country. They even told us they had shelter for us. The fact that these good people left their families and homes to help out total strangers in desperate conditions impressed my husband Glen and me so much.”

The couple’s experience with the volunteers moved them so much that they started taking Red Cross courses as soon as they got back home to Arizona.

When Julie first started volunteering with the Red Cross, she deployed only to domestic disasters, while Glen deployed to both national and international disasters. But four years later, Julie had a change of heart after something in her husband shifted.

The Effects of International Disasters

On Jan. 12, 2010, a catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti. That year, Glen deployed with the American Red Cross team to the island nation for five weeks immediately following the earthquake. When he returned home, Julie was excited to see him, but she noticed something different about him. He was usually a strong and composed person, but Glen had been shattered by the devastation he witnessed in Haiti.

The effect this earthquake had on Glen made Julie realize that although disasters in the U.S. can be devastating, disasters in developing countries can be even worse. So that year, Julie decided that she wanted to spend her time helping people impacted by crises around the globe.

Creating Connections Julie installing an antenna in Kathmandu.

As an international disaster response volunteer, Julie deploys with the Red Cross’s IT Telecommunications Emergency Response Unit (ERU). In her role, Julie helps communities impacted by disasters and disaster responders stay connected by setting up much needed radio and internet networks.

“When people at disaster sites tell me that they can’t perform some medical services, organize relief projects or arrange to receive supplies until they have an internet connection, I really feel like my contribution is important,” said Julie.

One of her most memorable experiences volunteering took place in Nepal—a Himalayan nation struck by a catastrophic earthquake in 2015. While she was setting up an internet connection there, she remembers speaking with workers at a nearby hospital. They told her they were waiting for the internet to be connected before they could start patient amputations because they wanted to communicate with a hospital in Finland during the operations.

A Family Away From Home Julie speaking with other Red Cross volunteers during a disaster operation in Nepal.

In addition to creating connections during disasters, Julie is driven to volunteer because of her teammates. This stems from her experiences working with teams during her 20 years in the U.S. Army. She considers her ERU team to be family.

“We are a team working toward the same goal. Once you’re on our team, you become family—a part of the Red Cross family,” said Julie.

Making a Global Impact

When encouraging others to volunteer with the Red Cross, Julie cannot speak enough about how much volunteering has changed her as a person.

“Volunteering with the Red Cross expands your heart and gives you the ability to see life on a larger scale. It makes you feel like a global person. You’re not thinking locally anymore. And you recognize that all we have is each other,” said Julie.

Become a Volunteer

In the face of crises like earthquakes, typhoons, conflict, severe drought, and famine, the American Red Cross and global Red Cross Red Crescent network join together to ease people’s suffering. Find out how you can volunteer to help disaster victims at home and across the globe at

For more information about American Red Cross’s work around the world, visit

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