Gift of blood can be given all year long

Published 8:51 am Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas has passed, but the season of giving continues. During this time of year, a gift that can literally save someone’s life is often forgotten and falls into short supply. But you can help and it won’t cost you anything but a few minutes of your time and a little pinch in your arm.
Of course, we’re talking about giving blood. Emergencies don’t take a holiday.
January is National Blood Donor Month, a campaign started by the American Red Cross in 1970 to promote winter blood donations across the country.
The American Red Cross has issued an urgent call for blood and platelet donations to cover medical treatments and emergencies, in anticipation of shortfalls during the holiday season. Without fail, blood donations tend to dip this time of year due to busier-than-normal schedules. Regular donors sometimes get wrapped up in the holiday bustle and may also cancel appointments to donate if they’ll be traveling.
Inclement weather can also lead to the cancellation of blood drives, or at least deter potential donors from attending, something the Red Cross continues to struggle with annually in January and February after the holidays have passed. Cold and flu season also may also cause regular donors to skip their appointments.
Patient need for blood remains constant, however, even as donations decline. According to the Red Cross, there is a patient in need of blood every two seconds in the United States. It is essential for surgeries, cancer treatment, chronic illness and traumatic injuries.
And just one person making a blood donation can potentially save up to three lives, the Red Cross says. If that notion doesn’t lift your spirits this holiday season, we don’t know what will.
Unfortunately, not everyone can donate blood. The Red Cross estimates less than 38 percent of the population can give blood. Some people may be disqualified from donating because they have a disease that is transmissible by blood. Others may have conditions that would endanger themselves if they give.
But for those who are healthy enough to donate, this is all the more reason.
Other requirements include having a blood donor card, a valid driver’s license or two other forms of identification at check-in. You must be at least 17 (or 16 with parental consent) and weigh at least 110 pounds.
While all types of blood are sought, O negative, A negative and B negative are especially needed. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to patients with any blood type.
There are opportunities to donate at area bloodmobiles over the next few weeks, including Jan. 14 at the Oak Street Baptist Church in Elizabethton from 1:30 to 6 p.m. and Jan. 11 from 12 noon to 5 p.m. at the First Christian Church, 312 S. Main Avenue in Erwin.
There are a lot of gifts you can give this holiday season, but none greater than the gift of blood.

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