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Needed: Blood Donations
Date:2/6/2009

Supplies tend to run dangerously short this time of year

FRIDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The holiday season is long gone, and everyone has settled back into regular routines.

But there's still one gift left to give, one that's desperately needed this time of the year.

The nation's blood supply tends to dip dangerously low both before and after the holidays, due to a decline in donations. Now that the new year is under way, there's a real need for eligible donors to roll up their sleeves and contribute a pint of blood for the well-being of their communities.

"Everyone knows someone who has needed blood," said Jill Allen, director of donor recruitment for the American Red Cross' Lewis and Clark Blood Services Region, in Salt Lake City. "There is only a select group that can supply blood, and there is always a great demand for blood. If you can do that, you should share in the responsibility of making sure there is enough available."

Every year, almost 5 million people in the United States receive blood transfusions requiring nearly 14 million units of whole blood and red blood cells, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. On any given day, an average of 39,000 units of red blood cells are needed by patients and trauma victims.

And those people need the real thing. Science has been unable to come up with an artificial substitute for human blood.

"We need people to call their local blood collection facility and schedule an appointment to donate blood," said Jennifer Garfinkel, spokeswoman for the AABB, formerly the American Association of Blood Banks. "One pint of blood can save up to three lives."

Blood has a limited shelf life, even after it has been spun down to its individual components, according to the American Red Cross:

  • Platelets must be used within five days of donation. They are given to help cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.'/>"/>

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