Giving blood is something just about all of us can do to help others and help our community and it doesn't cost a thing.
But too often, especially during the summer months, blood collections run short. It's a concern locally and around the world.
According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. is among only 60 countries worldwide that receive nearly 100 percent of its blood supply from volunteer donors. The other 40 percent still rely on family members to donate blood when it's needed, or they pay citizens for their blood.
One loyal donor is Bob Kubota of Lowell who says he makes giving blood part of his regular routine. He donates monthly, and over the years has given a total of 6 gallons of blood.
Health officials say every bag of blood donated saves three lives.
As is commonly the case with volunteers, blood donors are aging. It's important that young people step up. Anyone 16 years or older can donate.
People don't give blood for a variety of reasons, but many are simply misunderstandings or myths. Here are some common ones as posted on bloodassurance.org:
I can't give blood because I am diabetic: Diabetics can give blood.
I can't give blood because I am anemic: Hemoglobin levels will be checked prior to giving blood. As long as they are in a healthy range, you can give.
I can't give blood because I am on medication: There are some medications that would prevent you from donating, but not all. Just tell them what you are taking.
I need my blood: You have enough to spare and your red blood cells can be replaced within a few weeks.
Donors must be at least 16 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds. Prior to giving, a volunteer will check your blood pressure, temperature and other vital signs. Assuming all is normal, it's likely you can give.
As summer kicks in gear, please keep in mind the need for blood and do your part to help. Someone's life may depend on it.