Donate blood, be a hero

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It's not often the common man can help out with a crisis never before seen in history.

Whether because of personal resources or power, most of us have to watch issues unfold from the sideline and hope for the best.

That is not the case, however, as the United States faces record blood shortages. The American Red Cross issued its first-ever blood crisis alert earlier this month. Hospitals, including Memorial Community Hospital and Health System, have faced restrictions on blood available for transfusions. Some healthcare centers may have to turn patients away if not enough blood is available.

In an already unprecedented time for healthcare workers, this is just one more obstacle that stands in the way of them doing the best job possible.

Fortunately, almost everyone can help and it takes just a matter of minutes. The simple fact is, people who are able need to donate when possible. The only way to build back supplies is to build the donor pool back up. The Red Cross encourages anyone who can to donate blood, especially those with Type-O (positive or negative) blood, as it is routinely in the highest demand and shortest supply. But any drop helps.

Whether you've donated before and have fallen out of the routine or never have but have considered it, now is the time to attend a community blood drive or venture to your nearest donor center. The time commitment is minimal, certified drives and centers are safe and the contribution of blood in this day and age is vital.

Again, this is a rare chance to help reverse a dire situation in the country and one that doesn't involve money or politics. It's free to donate, but the rewards are incalculable to you as a donor, to healthcare workers scrambling in the face of the shortage and to recipients who can receive blood in a safe and timely manner.

MCH will host a blood drive at the hospital on Feb. 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To find a list of additional blood drives or clinics in the area, redcrossblood.org.

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