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A Lifesaving Gift: Give Blood This Holiday Season

PHOTO: A blood donation can be a lifesaving gift, which is why the American Red Cross and the Kentucky Blood Center hopes people will take time during the holidays to visit a local blood drive. Photo courtesy American Red Cross.
PHOTO: A blood donation can be a lifesaving gift, which is why the American Red Cross and the Kentucky Blood Center hopes people will take time during the holidays to visit a local blood drive. Photo courtesy American Red Cross.
December 23, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. - At hospitals and clinics across the state, the need for blood knows no season, but donations tend to drop this time of year. That's why officials are urging Kentuckians to consider rolling up their sleeves to give a lifesaving gift.

According to Dan Fox, communications manager with the American Red Cross, what with school vacations, inclement weather and busy schedules, the number of donations declines over the holidays, while the need for blood in local hospitals remains constant.

"These could be car accident victims, trauma victims; they could be people undergoing surgery, women going through childbirth, premature babies, cancer patients," he enumerated. "Every two seconds, somebody in this country needs a blood donation."

Libby Slusher of Nicholasville has donated 71 times: that's more than eight gallons of blood. She says she's following her late father's example.

"I just thought it would be something good to continue his legacy," she said. "So, I try to give at least on his birthday every year and then on my birthday, because since God gave me life, I want to share my life with others, so I always share on my birthday."

Slusher said she also gives around Christmas time. She donates at the Beaumont Donor Center in Lexington, one of the locations the Kentucky Blood Center operates across the eastern half of the state to supply 70 hospitals and clinics.

Dan Fox said many people don't think about giving blood until they hear about hospitals facing shortages, or there's been some sort of major tragedy, but he stressed that the blood donations need to be on hospital shelves before emergencies hit.

"It's vitally important to donate blood, not just when you hear about a natural disaster or something on the news, because that way we can make sure that blood is available to all patients who need it."

Although nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to give blood, less than ten percent actually do so each year.

The American Red Cross estimates that one in ten people admitted to the hospital will require a blood transfusion. In Kentucky, donors must be at least 16 years old, in good health, and weigh more than 110 pounds. Sixteen-year-old donors require permission from parents.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY