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Published: Saturday, 7/17/2004

The gift of life

THE local Red Cross needs your blood, and unless illness or disease prevents it, there are few better ways to serve mankind than by donating a pint and perhaps saving a life.

Red Cross offices in Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, and Lansing have declared an emergency, which means they have less than a day's supply of blood which fate may ordain that you, your friends, or family members will one day need. Their lives and those of others could hang in the balance.

The agency has tried incentive offers such as T-shirts and movie tickets to little avail. The downtown Toledo Rotary Club had some success by offering members a "fifth for a pint."

But giving blood shouldn't require such lures.

It is a gift that a healthy person of any financial condition can give, and several times a year. However, for whatever reasons, a mere 5 percent of the estimated 60 percent of the population who are eligible actually take the time to do it.

Some prefer not to think about it; for these folks this is always somebody else's problem. Others see no reason for them to lead the pack, and others may have philosophical or religious reasons not to donate. Still others simply can't stand the idea of getting poked with a needle.

But blood is a gift that keeps on giving, and, like the quality of mercy, it is one that blesses both the donor, as a giver of life and health, and the recipient it assists to heal and live.

Appointments are easy to make, at (419) 539-1009, or by visiting the Red Cross's major donor center in Toledo at 3510 Executive Parkway. If that's out of the way, a call to the same number will let you know of blood drives perhaps closer to where you work or live.

The process is equally easy. You'll answer questions about your general health. Then good veins are induced to appear, a needle goes in, and the blood flows slowly out into a pint-sized bag. When it's over, the donor is offered fruit juice, or another beverage, and cookies.

It couldn't be simpler.

It couldn't be more necessary.

And once you've done it, your act of unselfish generosity will have you feeling on top of the world.

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