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Donating blood is a gift

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Why hospitals need to always have an adequate supply of blood

* It is estimated that sickle cell disease affects 90,000 to 100,000 people in the United States. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.

* According to the American Cancer Society, more than 1.69 million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2017. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.

* A single car-accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.

- From the American Red Cross

Giving blood is one of the most generous acts possible that we can do.

Those who donate are helping strangers, whose very lives depend on the availability of an adequate blood supply.

Maintaining this supply is a priority every day in this country, as the following national American Red Cross statistics indicate. Someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds. In addition, about 36,000 units of red blood cells, about 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed every day in the United States.

And the only way to get blood to the patients in need is by blood donations from residents in every city throughout the country.

The nonprofit BloodSource blood bank, which sponsors semiannual drives in Lincoln with the Rotary Club of Lincoln, has several reasons why Lincoln residents should participate in the drives. Blood helps save the lives of accident and burn patients, premature infants, heart surgery patients, organ transplant recipients and individuals fighting cancer, leukemia and other disorders, according to BloodSource.

Those are rather compelling reasons to give.

"Donated blood goes to a lot of patients in need. Some might need blood for surgery, some might come in for a trauma incident and sometimes pregnant women need blood,” said BloodSource donor recruitment representative Ian Finch. “A lot of people need blood. Sometimes, babies can be saved with three teaspoons of blood. Other times, you have people in car accidents who might need 10, 50, 90 pints, depending on the accidents’ severity.”

Unfortunately, only about 10 percent of the estimated 38 percent of eligible Americans donate blood, according to the American Red Cross. That’s 6.8 million citizens throughout the country giving the life-saving fluid.

Traditionally, there is a drop in blood donations during winter months, as regular donors sometimes can’t give blood because they caught the flu or have a bad cold.

But more than 40,000 pints of donated blood are used every day in the U.S., Finch stressed.

By sharing their blood with BloodSource, Lincoln residents can help patients in area hospitals.

The next Lincoln Community Blood Drive, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Lincoln and BloodSource, is from 1 to 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Veterans Memorial Hall, 541 5th St.

“We have been having the Lincoln Community Blood Drive since 1989,” Finch said, “and in that time, we have seen over 3,500 people come out to donate blood and we have collected over 3,000 lifesaving pints of blood.”

Why should Lincoln residents donate blood?

"People should donate, because every two seconds in the U.S., someone gets a blood transfusion. It only takes 45 minutes to an hour to do and it can save up to three lives,” Finch said. “I donated 20 times myself. It hasn’t hurt me. Some people might be a little uncomfortable for five minutes but they’re giving a lifetime to others.”

That’s priceless.

And it’s one of the best holiday gifts you can give between 1 and 5:30 p.m. Friday at the semiannual blood drive at the Veterans Memorial Hall.