By Johnny Jackson
The American Red Cross is reporting consistent blood donations during a time when giving typically declines.
"We've had a great year this year," said April Phillips, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross. "People have been really coming out and helping support us. We've been very fortunate. However, the need for blood is constant. There is a constant need for blood and blood platelets."
The Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region, which includes all of Georgia and parts of Florida and South Carolina, provides blood to more than 120 hospitals.
There are about 150,000 pints of whole blood coming from the metro Atlanta region, which represents about half of all donors in the region. But an average of nearly 60,000 pints of blood are imported each year to meet the needs of the region.
"We would like to be a self-sufficient region," Phillips said. "We have some of the best health care systems in our region, and because we are such a large area, we do have a high usage."
The shortfalls in blood donor supply are typical, Phillips said. This year, though, has so far seen more steady donations.
"I think given the state of the economy now days, people are looking for ways they can easily give back that doesn't take a lot of time but can make a tremendous impact," Phillips said. "One blood donation can help save up to three lives, after all."
Blood suppliers like the American Red Cross rely heavily on student blood drive participation. About 24 percent of all blood collected in the Southern Blood Services Region comes from high school and college blood drives.
Today, the American Red Cross will host a blood drive from 8:30 a.m., to 1:30 p.m., at Luella High School. The school is located at 603 Walker Drive in Locust Grove.
The organization will hold another blood drive on Thursday, from 10 a.m., to 3 p.m., at Georgia Power General Services, 62 Lake Mirror Road, Building R, in Forest Park. On Friday, Henry County High School will host a blood drive at 401 East Tomlinson Street in McDonough, from 8 a.m., to 1 p.m.
March blood drives in the Southern Crescent include: March 13, 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., at Jonesboro High School, 7728 Mt. Zion Blvd. in Jonesboro; March 17, from 8:30 a.m., to 1:30 p.m., at Morrow High School, 2299 Old Rex Morrow Road in Morrow; March 4, from 2:45 to 7:45 p.m., at Salem Baptist Church, 1724 Ga. Highway 155 in McDonough; and March 9, 2-7 p.m., at McDonough Presbyterian Church, 427 McGarity Road in McDonough.
Blood can be safely donated every 56 days. Platelets can be given safely every two weeks, for up to 24 times a year. 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.
American Red Cross officials recommend that donors make appointments. For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate at one of the blood drives, call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (448-3543) or visit the American Red Cross' "Give Blood" web site.
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