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Blood shortage drives need

On Saturday, July 22, members of Calvary Baptist Church will do its job to help increase the area’s diminishing blood supply.

Although it’s not something many people think about, there are families who hurt everyday because their loved ones are in need of blood during a time of a critical drop in blood inventories across the nation.

“Typically in the past years, we import 1,000 units into the region, but we just can’t get enough donors,” regional blood coordinator Rhonda Dodge said, “Most of our supplies have gone to the mid-Atlantic region for Katrina response so right not we don’t have any ‘extra’ units to fall back on.”

Blood supplies are so dangerously low in the Alabama and Central Gulf Coast Region that the American Red Cross officially declared an emergency appeal period on July 5.

“It’s critical. We get so caught up in the wonders of modern medicine and what we can do with it, but we can’t generate blood, or go buy it from somewhere. The only way we can get blood is if people donate,” regional communications specialist for the Red Cross Evan Duffy said. “A lot of people don’t realize how many people need blood right now and we absolutely have to keep an emergency reserve.”

Both O Positive and O Negative blood are in great demand since they can be used in almost any situation. O Positive can be given to any person with a positive blood type and O Negative is the “Universal Donor,” which can donate to anyone.

In order to become a blood donor, one must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health.

Donors must present a photo ID, such as a driver’s license or American Red Cross donor card to donate.

Encourage a friend or family member to donate in your place, if you are not able to and make sure to eat properly and double your fluid intake in the 48 hours preceding blood donation.

“It’s time to step up to the plate and provide for those who need it,” Dodge said.

“It doesn’t take long to give blood,” Duffy said. “Just eat a good meal the night before and the day of, keep yourself hydrated and get a good night’s sleep.”

The drive will begin at Calvary Baptist, 1700 Highway 43 in Linden, at 8 a.m. and will last for four hours.

In addition to saving the life of a neighbor, friend, family member or coworker, those who choose to donate during the summer appeal period will also be eligible for several promotions.

Every donor in the month of July will receive a vintage American Red Cross ball cap and T-shirt, and all presenting donors between July 1-15 will be enrolled into a drawing for a pair of round-trip international air tickets courtesy of Delta Airlines.

During the month of August, all donors will receive a T-shirt and will be entered into a drawing for a $1,000 American Express prepaid gift card.

“In the next three to four weeks we are calling on everyone to search their hearts and think about all the patients waiting on blood transfusions and donations,” Dodge said. “There are a lot of people who are afraid of needles – matter of fact, I would worry about those who aren’t. But we are calling on people to not be afraid. These patients who need the blood don’t have a choice whether to be scared of needles, or not.”

“Every donated unit can save up to two lives,” Duffy said. “Giving blood saves the lives of your neighbors, friends, relatives and all of the people who make up the fabric of the community.”

For more information on giving blood, upcoming blood drives, or bringing a drive to your neighborhood, visit www.redcrossblood.org, www.alacgc.org, or call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.