Holiday travel brings critical blood need

Published 3:54 pm Wednesday, December 20, 2006

By By Evan Duffy
Many people are busily contemplating resolutions for the new year during December. Why not end the old year with the best resolution one can make, to save lives through blood donation before December 31?
Because of traditional holiday shortfalls that carry over into January, the American Red Cross is urging donors to close the year out as life-savers by giving at one of several American Red Cross blood drives scheduled for the final weeks of December.
The American Red Cross is charged with providing blood and blood products to over 100 hospitals in the Alabama and Central Gulf Coast Region, and while it may be difficult to find the time to donate amidst the flurry of holiday activity, patients in the region's hospitals are in desperate need of live-giving blood.
This is a time during which we look back on the year and look forward to the future.
For many, it's a time of cheer, hope and optimism. For those who find themselves in need of blood in our local hospitals, this time of the year can be just the opposite, since collections fall during the holidays while the demand increases.
That's why eligible donors must continue to give through year's end to help prevent a shortage from developing.
The American Red Cross and blood donors must be vigilant at all times in order to prevent a shortage in terms of the blood supply.
While it is usually safe for most people to give between 5 and 6 times a year, only a small percentage of donors actually do, making this time of the year even more of a strain on the blood supply.
Those eligible donors who have only given once or twice this year are encouraged to add one more donation to their list of holiday activities as a way of ensuring Happy Holidays for all those who call the region home.
Though many potential donors put blood donation low on the list of priorities during the holidays, it's important to remember that the need for blood never takes a holiday.
Accidents, surgeries and injuries occur on a daily basis, and the only way to save the lives of those in need is by giving blood this time of year.
Blood, moreover blood donors, can save up to two lives per donation. The statistics are staggering.
Every two seconds, someone in our region needs blood to survive. Some 700 donations are needed per day in our region alone just to meet the current need for blood, creating a constantly critical need for donors who roll up their sleeves to save the lives of their neighbors.
The victim of a traffic accident could need between four and 100 units of blood. The average heart bypass patient needs four to six units. The need for blood is constant, but it is in the holiday travel periods that this need is most critical.
In order to make blood donation more convenient for donors, the American Red Cross has scheduled several drives across the Alabama and Central Gulf Coast Region to enable donors to give the greatest holiday gift of all, the gift of life.
Brewton – Dec. 30
Daphne – Dec. 21
Foley – Dec. 21
Gulf Shores – Dec. 27
Monroeville – Dec. 29
To donate, you must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health.
Donors must also show identification in the form of a driver's license or ARC donor card.
If you are sick and cannot donate, please encourage a friend or loved one to donate in your place. If everyone who could donate would donate, there would never be a blood shortage in our area.
The American Red Cross will give a little back to the donors who give so much of their own time, blood and resources during this time of the year.
All donors who give in the month of December will receive a t-shirt and vintage American Red Cross ball cap.
Donors who are present to give blood will also be entered into a regional drawing for two round-trip domestic Delta Airlines tickets and a cruise package for two through Royal Caribbean Cruises.
Be a hero to your neighbors in need and touch countless lives. This holiday season, give someone the best gift they'll ever receive: the gift of life. There is no greater gift one can give.
Evan Duffy
Communications Specialist American Red Cross

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