Editorial: No greater gift than giving blood to the American Red Cross

’Tis the season of giving. Yet, during this time of year, a gift that can literally save someone’s life is often forgotten and falls into short supply. But you can help, and it won’t cost you anything but a few minutes of your time and a little pinch in your arm.

Of course, we’re talking about giving blood.


The American Red Cross has issued an urgent call for blood and platelet donations to cover medical treatments and emergencies, in anticipation of shortfalls during the holiday season. Without fail, blood donations tend to dip this time of year due to busier-than-normal schedules. Regular donors sometimes get wrapped up in the holiday bustle and may also cancel appointments to donate if they’ll be traveling.

Inclement weather can also lead to the cancellation of blood drives, or at least deter potential donors from attending, something the Red Cross continues to struggle with annually in January and February after the holidays have passed. Cold and flu season also may also cause regular donors to skip their appointments.

Patient need for blood remains constant, however, even as donations decline. According to the Red Cross, there is a patient in need of blood every two seconds in the United States. It is essential for surgeries, cancer treatment, chronic illness and traumatic injuries.

And just one person making a blood donation can potentially save up to three lives, the Red Cross says. If that notion doesn’t lift your spirits this holiday season, we don’t know what will.

But if you still need a little more motivation, the Red Cross is offering a $5 Amazon gift card to donors who give blood or platelets before Dec. 19. (Visit for more information and restrictions.)

Unfortunately, not everyone can donate blood. The Red Cross estimates less than 38 percent of the population can give blood. Some people may be disqualified from donating because they have a disease that is transmissible by blood. Others may have conditions that would endanger themselves if they give. Eligibility requirements to donate can be found at

But for those who are healthy enough to donate, this is all the more reason.

Other requirements include having a blood donor card, a valid driver’s license or two other forms of identification at check-in. You must be at least 17 (or 16 with parental consent) and weigh at least 110 pounds.

While all types of blood are sought, O negative, A negative and B negative are especially needed. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to patients with any blood type.

There are numerous opportunities to donate in Carroll County over the next few weeks, including a few chances next week. On Monday, Dec. 3, St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hampstead will host a blood drive from 1:30 to 7 p.m. and the Freedom Optimist Community Center in Eldersburg will have a drive from 2 to 7:30 p.m. The Carroll County Government Office Building at 225 N. Center St. will have a blood drive Friday, Dec. 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If those dates and times don’t work, visit to search for a blood drive that is more convenient for you, or you can make a donation appointment online, by downloading the American Red Cross Blood Donor app, or calling 1-800-733-2767. If you want to take it a step further, you can also host a blood drive. Visit to learn more.

The Red Cross is also in need of volunteer transportation specialists to deliver donations to local hospitals. You can learn more about that by visiting

There are a lot of gifts you can give this holiday season, but none greater than the gift of blood.