By Johnny Jackson
Officials with the American Red Cross are once again reminding residents the need for blood is still high, particularly during the holiday season.
"Blood donations often decline between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, due to holiday preparations and travel, but the need for blood remains constant," said April Phillips, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region.
The Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region provides blood to more than 120 hospitals, and must have 1,200 people each, give a pint of blood and platelets each weekday to meet hospital demand, Phillips said.
"Thousands of people donate blood in our area each year, and their generous gift has helped save countless lives," Phillips said.
She said the Red Cross often falls short in its collections, however, and must rely on other states to help meet the needs of local hospitals.
"There is no substitute for blood, and volunteer donors are the only source," she said. "[However,] one unit of blood can help save the lives of up to three individuals."
Blood can be safely donated every 56 days. Most healthy people, age 17 and older, or 16 with parental consent, who weigh at least 110 pounds, are eligible to donate blood and platelets. Donors who are 18 and younger must also meet specific height and weight requirements.
"Blood is needed to help treat a variety of patients including accident victims and individuals undergoing surgery and cancer treatment," Phillips said. "The Red Cross encourages people who are in good health to donate, so that hospital patients have the blood or platelets they need to make a full recovery."
The Red Cross has several local blood drives scheduled for December. To find an upcoming, local blood drive, visit the web site at: www.givebloodredcross.org, or call 1-800-GIVE LIFE (448-3543).