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Help your community hospitals by donating blood today - JACQUELINE SMITH

This letter is aimed at Southern Crescent residents -- the editor

The team at your local community blood center, LifeSouth, would like to thank all of those who gave in 2008 and extend an invitation to them and others to do the same in 2009.

Blood donors are quiet heroes, who save the lives of people in our communities. They are the people you can count on if your friends, family members or co-workers ever need blood.

This is why we want to remind you that January is National Blood Donor Awareness Month.

Currently, fewer than 1 in 10 Americans regularly gives blood, so this small group is challenged to keep up with the need. The organization, America's Blood Centers,calculates that 38,000 units of blood are needed every day in the U.S. - that's 1,583.3 units per hour, 26.3 units per minute, of every day.

That need never sleeps and it never takes a holiday. And as America's population continues to age, that need will keep climbing.

As a supplier of blood products to many of the local hospitals, including: Henry Medical Center, Medical Center of Central Georgia, and Southern Regional Medical Center, to name a few, we need your help to meet our community blood needs.

There is no substitute for human blood. The only way we can assure that it will be on the hospital's shelves when it is needed is for donors to step forward. That need is particularly strong during January; supplies are typically low coming out of the holidays, just as patients return to hospitals. It's also the season when severe weather in parts of the country, and colds and flu, prevent many regular donors from giving.

Our donors come in all shapes, sizes and ages. Many high school students now mark a 16th birthday by getting written permission from their parents and donating blood when the bloodmobile stops at their school.

College students find that giving blood is one way they can give back to their community, even during tight economic times. And we have many senior citizens who have a long history of donating, and continue to give.

We often ask our first-time donors why they decided to give blood. The most common answer is, "Somebody asked me." As we begin Blood Donor Awareness Month, I'm asking you to please give.

That decision could make a lifesaving difference for someone in need in our community. So help save a life today!

JACQUELINE SMITH

Southern Crescent Region, Branch Director

LifeSouth Community Blood Centers