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Red Cross: Need for blood continues year round

ALBANY, Ga. -- During the months when it is typical for people to take their annual vacations, it is often easy to forget about donating blood.

In light of that, the American Red Cross is making a call now to potential donors willing to make their contributions.

"Blood donations typically decline during the summer and winter holidays," said April Phillips, communications specialist with the Red Cross. "High schools and colleges account for more than 20 percent of all the blood we collect each year. So, when school is not in session, we see an almost immediate drop in donations.

"We have not really experienced this annual decline yet, since most schools are still in session. However, by making an appointment to donate in the coming days and weeks, we can help ensure that there is a safe and adequate blood supply going into the summer."

There is a constant need for all blood types, but the need is especially great at this time for types O and B. Type O-negative is the universal blood type, which is why it is regularly used in hospital emergency rooms. Less than 10 percent of the population is O-negative, Phillips said.

"It is important to donate because there is currently no substitute for blood," she said. "Volunteer blood donors are the only source. If you talk to blood recipients, many of them never thought they would need blood -- until they did. By donating blood, you can help ensure that blood is available whenever it is needed for patients.

"One pint of blood can save up to three lives, and you never know when one of those lives might be someone you love."

There are two mobile drives planned for the Albany area in the coming weeks. The Beattie Road Church of Christ is hosting a drive from 4 p.m.-8 p.m. May 19, and the Albany Mall will also hold one from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. June 17.

A phone call to Susann McNair, donor recruitment representative for the Albany area, was not returned Monday.

Someone in the United States is in need of blood every two seconds.

The Southern Blood Services Region, in which Albany falls, assists 120 hospitals and must have 1,200 people give blood and platelets each weekday to meet hospital demand. Accident victims and patients with cancer, sickle cell disease, blood disorders and other illnesses receive transfusions daily.

Blood can be donated every 56 days, and platelets can be donated every two weeks. Most healthy people age 17 and older, or 16 with parental consent, who weigh at least 110 pounds are eligible to donate blood and platelets. Donors aged 18 and younger must meet specific height and weight requirements.

In addition to the mobile drives, donations may also be made at the Albany Donor Center at 1515 Dawson Road. They are open from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Those wishing to make an appointment to give can call 800-GIVE-LIFE (4483-5433).