Red Cross health history assessment helped a cancer patient seek medical attention 

By Laura McGuire, American Red Cross  

Amelia Heider, a local American Red Cross blood donor, was deferred from giving blood three months in a row. Before her blood donation and after a health history assessment, Heider’s hemoglobin level produced a low result which prevented her from donating blood. This action led her to seek the advice of her doctor. In April 2022, she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. 

Heider is battling refractory high-risk Acute Myeloid Leukemia, also known as AML, with a rare genetic mutation. AML is a cancer of the blood that starts in the bone marrow and spreads to the bloodstream. 

Cancer patients use nearly one-quarter of the nation’s blood supply – more than patients fighting any other disease – but only 3% of Americans donate blood each year. To date, Heider has received over 50 whole blood and/or platelet transfusions during her treatment. 

The Heider family have been loyal blood donors and longtime residents of the Lodi community. “We strongly believe that by Amelia being a regular blood donor and being deferred from giving blood led to her Leukemia diagnosis,” said Maureen Heider, Amelia’s mother. “We did not realize just how much blood products cancer patients used.”  

To help keep blood the blood supply stable, the Heider family is holding a blood drive in honor of Amelia on Tuesday, April 11, 2023, from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Lodi Veterinary Care, 705 N. Main in Lodi. “We hope this blood drive will encourage people to donate blood on a regular basis to help all in need,” said Maureen Heider.

The Red Cross is proud to provide important health information through the donation process. This health assessment is performed on each blood donor prior to their donation. The private health history assessment includes questions about the donor’s health history, places traveled, use of prescription and over-the-counter medications, temperature, pulse rate, and blood pressure reading. The assessment also includes checking the donor’s hemoglobin level from a single drop of blood obtained from a finger stick to ensure the donor is healthy enough to donate. Empowering our blood donors with meaningful health information is critical to maintaining donor person well-being as well as the broader care of our communities.

To make an appointment to give blood, visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS or download the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

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