Some gifts do not come in a shiny box or wrapped in a ribbon.
Local blood product and platelet suppliers are asking the public to consider giving the gift of life.
Red Cross regional communications manager, said. "Donating platelets especially will help so many people in need due to transfusions or through treatment of Leukemia or other cancers."
Bone marrow recipients can receive up to 120 doses of platelets waiting for their new bone marrow to engraft. Platelets may also be transfused during heart bypass surgery to prevent post-operative bleeding.
"Platelet products must be transfused within five days of donation, so we need to ensure that one or more of our five platelet donor centers are open every day of the year except Christmas. The need is ongoing and demand often outpaces supplies," said region CEO John Hagins. "We are grateful to donors who make and keep commitments to donate blood and platelets on holidays or during the holiday season."
Regionally, the Red Cross needs to collect more than 1,200 blood and platelet donations each weekday to meet patient needs.
The Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region collection sites serve patients at more than 90 hospitals in 100 counties in parts of Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, Spampinato said.
People are encouraged to donate whole blood, plasma, platelets or try a double red blood cell donation, Spampinato said.
The double red cell donations take longer but a single donation can garner up to three doses of blood for medical procedures that can include surgery and cancer treatment.
"Typically if we have to pull platelets from whole blood we need to pool 6 to 8 donors. It is far better for the patient to receive products from a single donor, if possible," Spampinato said.
Andrew Koharchik, 43, of Somerset, has donated more than 306 platelet products at the blood services center located at 250 Jari Drive, in Richland Township.
Koharchik began donating after his mother Gail Koharchik was diagnosed with cancer. She died in 1997, but the family has continued to donate blood products in order to help other families.
"It's only two hours every two weeks," he said. "It's worth it knowing all the people you help."
Koharchik said the process is painless and doesn't restrict his daily activities. To make the process even less physically demanding, he eats some spinach and red meat — anything with high iron levels — a few days before the donation.
"It's really very easy to do," he said.
Whole blood can be safely donated every 5 to 6 days. Most healthy people age 17 and older, or 16 with parental consent, who weigh at least 110 pounds, are eligible to donate blood and platelets.
The Greater Alleghenies Region has five platelet donor centers — hours by appointment — in Altoona, Beaver, Greensburg, Johnstown and State College.
For more information or to schedule a platelet donation appointment, call (800) 542-5663, ext. 2637 or (814) 262-2637. For additional information about the platelet donation process, including eligibility information, visit redcrossblood.org online.