Capital Region

Editorial: A Christmas gift that keeps on giving

Giving blood is easy, safe, quick
Samuel Harricharran was a first-time donor when this photo was taken.
Samuel Harricharran was a first-time donor when this photo was taken.

Editor’s note: This editorial was updated at 6:45 a.m. Tuesday. Twin sisters Cameron and Olivia Plourde of Connecticut were born 11 weeks premature.

For these special people, the greatest gift anyone could ever give them doesn’t come in a box.

It comes in a bag.

Twelve-year-old Robert Purdy and his little brother were riding the new bikes they received for Christmas a few years back when Robert was struck by a truck on the way to their cousin’s house. The two pints of blood he received saved his life.

Lindsay Crowder was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 2 years old. She relapsed when she turned 6.

She’s alive today thanks to more than 100 transfusions of blood and platelets she received from generous donors during a cumulative four months in the hospital.

In 2011, Janice J. was diagnosed with uterine cancer.

Suffering from anemia because of the impact the cancer treatment had on her body, she had to receive two blood transfusions to keep her alive. She went into remission later that year and has stayed there ever since.

Twin sisters Cameron and Olivia Plourde of Connecticut were born 11 weeks premature.

In critical condition from birth, they suffered from a condition called “twin-to-twin transfusion system,” in which one twin, Olivia, received twice the number of blood and nutrients than Cameron.

Cameron received an emergency blood transfusion thanks to a blood drive organized by local firefighters.

The twins spent nearly two months in the hospital, and today they are happy, healthy young children.

These are just a few of the many stories from all around the country of people whose lives were improved or saved by the generosity of blood donors.

Giving blood is easy, safe, quick and only moderately uncomfortable.

Yet the nation is in the middle of a blood donation crisis.

Each day the Red Cross needs about 88,000 pints to be available for surgeries, chronic conditions, chemotherapy and emergencies like car accidents.

Yet recently, it only has about half that amount on hand. And demand is outpacing the donations by double.

Due to the complex nature of some of today’s medical treatments and the severity of some ailments, the need for blood is greater than ever. A single liver transplant, for instance, can require 120 pints of blood.

Another reason for the shortages is that while the population ages, the number of young donors signing up to give a pint isn’t keeping pace.

According to the Red Cross, only 14 percent of regular donors today are under the age of 30.

People offer all kinds of reasons for not donating. One is that that they’re afraid of needles.

The whole process involves exactly two needle sticks, one a finger prick to check your iron levels to make sure you’re medically eligible, and the other to collect your blood.

In most cases, the donation needle stings for all of a 10th of a second. For the rest of the time, you just lie there reading a book or staring at the ceiling or playing on your phone or chatting with the staff for the next half hour. It’s a small sacrifice.

If you’re one of those people who claim giving blood is not convenient, you’re mistaken.

Blood drives are held every day in our local communities.

Go to and plug in your ZIP code to find a drive near you.

On Friday, we plugged in Schenectady ZIP code 12309.

Up popped a map showing a dozen drives within 10 miles of the city in the next 14 days. So convenience is a non-issue unless you make it one.

If you’ve ever given blood, you know how amazing the experience is. The staffers at the Red Cross drives never cease to be caring, calming, competent and a lot of times, pretty funny.

You can give a gift this holiday season, and throughout the year, that won’t cost you a dime.

If you’re medically eligible and you’ve just been putting it off, think of all those people you could be helping.

Your donation will be of greater value than any gift they’ll find under the Christmas tree today — or ever.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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