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Red Cross presents gifts to hospitalized pediatric patients

Shea Register, left, a Southwest Georgia blood donor recruiter with the American Red Cross, gave gift cards and dolls to children Thursday in the pediatric unit of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. Among those receiving a gift card was Dillion Cooper, 5, which was accepted by his mother, Priscilla Cross of Sylvester, right.

Shea Register, left, a Southwest Georgia blood donor recruiter with the American Red Cross, gave gift cards and dolls to children Thursday in the pediatric unit of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. Among those receiving a gift card was Dillion Cooper, 5, which was accepted by his mother, Priscilla Cross of Sylvester, right.

ALBANY — Even though it was already four days past Christmas, the blood services arm of the American Red Cross wanted to make sure some of the area’s hospitalized children were not forgotten this year.

On Thursday, a representative from the Red Cross was on hand to deliver gift cards and dolls to children who were hospitalized in the pediatric unit at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

In all, there were 13 children in the unit. Shea Register, a Southwest Georgia blood donor recruiter, was on hand to give Toys R Us gift cards to each one.

She also brought with her several Lalaloopsy dolls to distribute to the girls. The dolls were made possible through a partnership between the Red Cross and the company that produces them.

“We just want to take another step to make sure they (the hospitalized children) feel wanted,” Register said. “It’s to give them some Christmas cheer.

“The doll company contacted us, and they thought it would be good to give back.”

The gift cards and dolls were delivered room by room, a move officials hoped might also influence people to give blood during a time of year in which blood products are in short supply.

“We are on alert for (blood) types O and B, so we are trying to get all the donations we can,” Register said. “We are hoping to rally up support and let people know we are doing great things.”

During the holiday season, because of donors’ seasonal or family obligations, it is common for donations to drop off. Officials say that, despite the fact that an alert was placed following the slow donation traffic last week, procedures at Phoebe have not yet been put on hold due to shortage of blood.

Platelets can be especially hard to hold on to since they only have a shelf life of five days, said Dian Swafford, Phoebe’s blood bank manager.

Most of the beneficiaries from the Red Cross’ gift giveaway on Thursday ranged from infant to 5 years of age, including a girl who was celebrating her first birthday.

Register indicated that she would be willing to do a similar giveaway next year.