Take time to give the gift of life


Some 4.5 million Americans would die each year without blood transfusions, according to Brookhaven National Laboratory, in Suffolk County. That is why donating blood is critical. Giving a single pint of blood could save as many as three lives.

In summer, however, blood donations drop off dramatically, because schools, which account for a high number of donations, are out, and people are on vacation, when they’re not precisely thinking about giving blood.

If you have the time, please donate blood. Only 10 percent of people who are eligible to do so donate blood annually, according to the American Red Cross. But someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion every two seconds — yes, that’s every two seconds.

There is no substitute for blood. It is perishable, and can quickly become unusable if not stored properly and administered promptly, which adds to the importance of having a steady supply on hand.

Blood centers list the health benefits of donating blood:

* You may be less likely to have a heart attack.

* It balances your iron levels.

* It enhances the production of fresh blood cells.

Each new donor helps blood centers meet their daily needs. The universal blood type, O negative, is the first line of defense for doctors and emergency rooms in a catastrophe. Most blood centers, however, collect all blood types.

Blood donors must:

* Weigh at least 110 pounds.

* Be between ages 16 and 75. (Sixteen-year-olds must have parental permission, and those older than 75 most provide a doctor’s note.)

* Eat well (low fat) and drink fluids.

* Not have gotten a tattoo in the last year.

Check your local fire department and libraries, because they often hold blood drives during the summer. If you meet the requirements, please make the time to give. You will inevitably be saving a life.