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Regular blood donation provides adequate supply during times of crisis or heavy need

In times of crisis, sometimes the best gift you can give is what's inside you.

Donating blood on a regular basis helps keep hospitals and other emergency care providers prepared for life-saving procedures, especially in times of disasters or other events that cause a large-scale threat to human life.

AMERICAN RED CROSS PHOTO - A blood donation in progress. Most donors are eligible to donate blood every 56 days. Because blood has a shelf life, or "expiration date," and can't be stockpiled in advance, having an adequate rotating supply of blood and platelets at area hospitals is crucial.

As Natividad Lewis, a communications manager with American Red Cross puts it, if a disaster happens, healthcare providers need blood yesterday.

"It's important to remember the blood already on the shelves is what helps save lives during an emergency," Lewis explains. "Blood is perishable, and generous volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need. Since every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood, it is important that donors are giving regularly."

As soon as a blood donation is collected, it is typically taken to a lab for testing and processing, where whole blood is separated into red blood cells, platelets and plasma, according to Bloodworks NW, a nonprofit Seattle-based blood collection organization.

If a crisis hits in Columbia County, or across the country, blood supply is tapped wherever needed.

"While the Red Cross prioritizes the needs of area hospitals first, it also provides blood throughout the country, wherever there is a need," says Lewis. "So eligible donors can feel good knowing that by donating through the Red Cross they may be helping patients not only in their community, but also family and friends across the nation."

Donated blood is essential during times of crisis, like a natural disaster or attack, but donations save patients' lives every day.

Burn and crash victims, as well as those receiving heart surgery or an organ transplant, all need blood. The same goes for patients being treated for leukemia, cancer, or sickle cell disease.

The requirements for donating blood vary slightly between men and women, and young donors face additional weight requirements, but generally, donors must weigh at least 110 pounds, be healthy and feeling well before donating, not have a medical condition that prevents them from giving blood, including recent treatment for a sexually transmitted disease, not be pregnant, not have had sexual contact or lived with someone with Hepatitis within the past 12 months, and be 17 or 16 with parental consent.

You can donate blood through the American Red Cross at the following locations and dates:

Scappoose

Tuesday, Sept. 26, and again Friday, Oct. 27

(Blood drives held monthly)

1-7 p.m.

St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church, 51555 SW Old Portland Rd.

Warren

Thursday, Sept. 28

2-7 p.m.

Moose Lodge #591

57317 Old Portland Rd.

St. Helens

Wednesday, Oct. 25

10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Columbia County Courthouse

230 Strand Street

Rainier

Monday, Sept. 25

2-7 p.m.

Alston's Corner Assembly of God

25272 Alston Rd.

Visit redcrossblood.org/give for more information on where and how to donate.

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