The holidays often evoke thoughts of comfort food, a time for families to gather and give thanks for their many 12-07-11-blood_bank.jpgblessings and even football. During this season, we tend to be more cognizant of everything we are grateful for. The focus of our gratitude is not on our fancy smartphones or discretionary income, but rather on our families, friends and good health.

In giving thanks, it is common to reflect on the adage, “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.” Often times, we don’t know how true this statement is, until our own health or the health of someone we care about has taken a negative turn. Our local patients are not as lucky and rely on volunteers in our community to improve their health.

Cape Fear Valley Health transfuses on average 1,100 units of blood every month to local patients. In order to perform surgeries, be prepared for traumas, save premature infants and provide therapy to cancer or treat burn patients, the hospital calls on our community for volunteer blood donors. Fortunately, our community has our own blood bank so that local citizens can be a service not only to themselves but also to their loved ones and neighbors.

With today’s aging population, plus advances in medical treatments and procedures that require blood transfusions, the demand for blood continues to rise. About one in seven people entering the hospital need blood. The average red blood cell transfusion is three pints of blood, needed from three different donors. However, a single car accident victim could require up to 100 pints of blood. Blood has a shelf life; red cells have to be used within 42 days and platelets only last for 5 days, so there is a constant need to replenish the community’s blood supply.

As we approach the holidays, the demand for blood increases. We feel this on a national and local level. With the short list of blood donors in our community, the hectic holiday season and patients’ never-ending need of transfusions, it’s hard to keep a minimum amount of blood on the shelves. Blood donations are needed all year, but they’re most critical during holidays. There is an urgent need for blood during this time because during the holiday season there are more trauma cases, many businesses and schools are unable to host blood drives and there is a low turnout of donors due to vacation schedules, illness and inclement weather.

The week before and after Thanksgiving and Christmas, are our Urgent Days of Giving. Our local patients depend on healthy volunteers to donate lifesaving blood, so that they too can be thankful of another day. What better way to show gratitude for good health, than by donating life to those who are not as fortunate.

In this time of rushing through life, it is easy to not stop and take time to appreciate what we already have. For healthy individuals, you have the power to save lives. Each blood donation can save up to three lives. Volunteers can go to our community blood bank, Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center, at 3357 Village Drive in the Bordeaux Shopping Center. Donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and have valid photo identification.

The Blood Donor Center is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and every third Saturday of each month, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For information on saving lives locally, call (910) 615-LIFE. This holiday season, show thanks by giving — giving.

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