The American Red Cross is urging eligible donors to give blood or platelets.

Donations decline during the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, when busy holiday schedules cause regular donors to be less available to give and many blood drives may be canceled due to severe winter storms. Last year, nearly 64,000 fewer blood and platelet donations were given through the Red Cross during the seven weeks from Thanksgiving through the first week of January than the average during the rest of the year.

“By taking just about an hour of time today, you can help save someone’s life within a few weeks or even days of your donation,” said Laura McGuire, external communications manager of the Red Cross Badger-Hawkeye Blood Services Region. “We’re asking donors to give now to help ensure blood is available when patients need it most.”

Blood is perishable and can only be replenished by volunteer donors. Red blood cells, the most transfused blood product, must be transfused within 42 days. Platelets, the tiny cells that form clots and help stop bleeding, must be transfused within just five days. More than half of all platelet donations go to cancer patients who may need platelet transfusions to prevent life-threatening bleeding during chemotherapy.

“Platelet donors don’t have to wait a few weeks to make a difference in a patient’s life,” said McGuire. “Someone could donate platelets on Monday, and by Friday, those same platelets can help someone’s fight to kick cancer.”

All blood types are needed this winter. Platelet donations are especially encouraged the first week of the new year, which is among the most difficult to collect enough platelets to meet patient needs. Donation appointments can be cheduled by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-733-2767.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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