Albany Mall to host blood drive today

ALBANY -- Holiday bargains won't be the only thing shoppers will see at the Albany Mall during "Black Friday."

In anticipation of the constant need for blood, the American Red Cross will be hosting three blood drives occurring simultaneously throughout the area -- one of which will occur near the Sears and Old Navy outlets at the mall from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m today.

"In south Georgia, we are trying to do something different," explained Susann McNair, donor recruitment representative for the Albany blood donor center.

The other two drives will be at the Tifton Mall and the Valdosta Mall.

As the holidays approach, the blood supply often suffers due to fewer mobile drives and more vacation time. The blood drives being held today are designed to make up for that, McNair said.

"We're heading into the holiday season, so we want to pull our supply up," she said. "People are traveling, but the need for blood is constant. We are looking for people looking to find a way to give back."

Officials say that every two seconds, someone in the country needs blood. There are 1,200 donors needed each day to meet the hospital demand within the American Red Cross blood services region that Albany falls.

"It is very important we meet the need," McNair stressed. "Volunteer donors are the only source (for blood)."

Those who donate will be entered in a raffle to win a $100 gift card to Turner's Fine Furniture, a $50 mall gift card or a golf club. The first 50 to donate will receive an American Red Cross holiday ornament.

Each unit of blood donated can help as many as three people. Supplies last a maximum of 42 days. Blood can be given every 56 days; automated red cells can be given every 112 days, and platelets can be donated every two weeks. Once given, the blood goes to assist people including cancer patients and car-accident victims.

To be eligible to give, potential donors should be 17 years old (or 16 years old with parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. Donors are also encouraged to get a good night's sleep, eat a well-balanced meal and drink a decent amount of fluids 48 hours beforehand.