Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Lifesaving Gift: Give Blood This Holiday Season

Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA

HARRISBURG, Pa. - At hospitals and clinics across the state, the need for blood knows no season, but donations tend to drop this time of year. That's why officials are urging Pennsylvanians to consider rolling up their sleeves to give a lifesaving gift.

Between school vacations, inclement weather and busy schedules, said Dan Fox, a communications manager for the American Red Cross, the number of donations declines over the holidays while the need for blood in local hospitals remains constant.

"These could be car accident victims, trauma victims; they could be people undergoing surgery, women going through childbirth, premature babies, cancer patients," Fox said. "Every two seconds, somebody in this country needs a blood donation."

Many people don't think about giving blood until they hear about hospitals facing shortages or there's been some sort of major tragedy, Fox said, stressing that blood donations need to be on hospital shelves before emergencies hit.

"It's vitally important to donate blood not just when you hear about a natural disaster or something on the news," he said, "because that way we can make sure that blood is available to all patients who need it."

Although nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to give blood, less than 10 percent actually do it each year.

The American Red Cross estimates that one in 10 people admitted to the hospital will require a blood transfusion. In Pennsylvania, donors must be at least 16 years old, in good health and weigh more than 110 pounds.

More information is online at RedCrossBlood.org.

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