Give the gift of life give blood. Now.

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 7, 2004

The American Red Cross has issued an emergency appeal for blood donors in the Alabama-Central Gulf Coast region. That includes Alabama’s Black Belt.

The Red Cross is one of those organizations that far too many of us too often take for granted &045; until it’s needed.

Whenever a disaster strikes we have come to expect that the Red Cross will be there. How many times has a hurricane or tornado struck our state and news photos of the storm’s aftermath shown Red Cross workers on the scene almost before the danger is even past? We have grown accustomed to seeing the brave men and women of the Red Cross &045; professional and volunteer &045; handing out much-needed food and clothing supplies, and providing emergency shelter.

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Of course, the Red Cross is also charged with maintaining the nation’s blood supply. Red Cross bloodmobiles are a familiar sight in almost any city in this country.

But the Red Cross cannot do its job without us. We must step up and be willing to give the gift of life. The Alabama-Gulf Coast region traditionally uses more blood than is donated locally. But because of shortages in other regions, the local Red Cross is warning that we may have to fend for ourselves in the coming weeks.

The blood you give will be used locally to help your friends, relatives and neighbors. Like most other hospitals, the Vaughan Regional Medical Center gets its blood supplies from the Red Cross.

There is no danger whatsoever to the donor. All blood donor supplies are used once and then discarded.

Two blood drives have been scheduled this week. One Friday at the Department of Human Resources and one Saturday at the National Guard Armory on U.S. Highway 80 West.

Please don’t take it for granted that someone else will do it for you. Give blood.