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Your Views: Give the gift of life: January is Blood Donor Awareness Month
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The next time you are in a crowd look around and see if you can spot the blood donors – it will be a challenge. They come in all shapes and sizes, men and women, from 16-year-old first-timers to veteran donors in their 90s who continue to support their communities by giving blood.

They also happen to be a very select group. It’s estimated that only about 4 percent of Americans donate blood regularly. That means that somewhere in a crowd are the four people in every hundred who are supporting the other 96 percent.

To that small group, we at LifeSouth say thank you, and we join with other blood centers across the country in honoring blood donors in January, while also working to raise awareness of the impact of giving.

That 4 percent has a tough job and they certainly could use some help. It’s estimated that 1 in every 7 patients entering hospital will need blood. The organization America’s Blood Centers estimates 38,000 units of blood are used every day in this country and every drop must come from a donor, since there is no substitute for human blood. Trauma patients, those receiving chemotherapies for cancer or undergoing surgery depend on blood being available, that need never takes a holiday.

And while the shelves in our hospitals can be filled for emergencies, blood isn’t a product that can be stored indefinitely. Just like the milk on the shelves at the supermarket, blood has a shelf life — 42 days for red blood cells and only five days for the platelets that are so vital for trauma and cancer patients — so there’s a constant need for more donors.

Here’s another important number in the blood donor equation: one. No, it’s not very big, but if just one more person in every 100 would donate regularly, it would greatly reduce the chance of a shortage. If those who do donate would do so one more time each year, it would make a huge difference.

So, today I’m asking you to be the "one." I’m asking you to be a blood donor. Today somewhere in our community someone will be waking up not knowing that their life will depend on a blood donor. A few minutes of your time can make a lifetime of difference for that person.

Be the one. Donate blood today.

Shannon Gable
regional manager, LifeSouth Community Blood Centers’ NEGA District

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