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Blood drive means saving lives

It’s about more than charity for Rayco Industrial’s Hunter Harrelson.

When he was 9, blood donations saved his mother, Angie, from potentially fatal internal bleeding.

Rayco will sponsor a blood drive Thursday at its office, 3810 U.S. Highway 41, so people can donate to the American Red Cross. It runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“With the blood shortages at the Red Cross nowadays, they need help,” Harrelson. “We’re a large company, we’re in the community and we want people to know that we’re here and that we’re trying to help.”

The goal is 25 people, but Harrelson said no one will be turned away. “We’d love to double, triple that number, if possible,” he said.

Blood shortages run higher in the summer for several reasons. Students in high school and college comprise 21 percent of blood donors in this region, and they normally aren’t available for donations at their schools.

People are also unavailable to donate because they are away from home on vacation. The frequency of dangerous storm activity and increases in auto accidents complicate the trend further.

“This drive is designed to head off the summer blood shortages in advance of the increased summer demand,” said Evan Duffy, Senior Communications Specialist for the Red Cross. “The summer is a tough time for the blood supply and those whose very lives depend on it.”

One donation can benefit up to three individuals because blood can be separated into three components — blood, platelets and plasma.

If everyone who was eligible would donate four times a year, there would never be a blood shortage, according to the American Red Cross.

During the month of August, everyone who donates at a Red Cross blood drive or donor center will be entered into a regional drawing for a $1,000 gas card as part of the Save a Life and See America promotion. All presenting volunteer donors will also receive an American Red Cross T-shirt during the month of August.

Blood donors must be at least 17-years-old and weigh at least 110 pounds. Call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE or visit www.redcrossblood.org for more information or to make an appointment to donate.