Editorial: The greatest gift

As we think of gifts to give our family, friends, and other people important to us at this time of year, the greatest gift we can give is what we can give to a stranger — blood. It costs us nothing but a little time, yet it is probably the most difficult commodity to come by.

Each year, almost 5 million Americans of all ages need a blood transfusion. The reasons are varied. Some surgeries require blood. Trauma victims may need blood. Those suffering from anemia caused by cancer or other diseases and those with a bleeding disorder will need transfusions.

The Red Cross must collect about 14,000 pints of blood every day to meet the needs of patients across the United States, but only about 3% of the population donates blood each year. Donors of all blood types are needed to give blood or platelets so supplies are there for all patients when they need them the most.

There are three opportunities nearby to give blood within the next few days:

  • Friday, Dec. 15, 8 to 1, Norwalk Hospital Patio Room.

  • Saturday, Dec. 16, 9 to 2, Ridgefield Supply, 29 Prospect Street, Ridgefield.

  • Thursday, Dec. 21, 1 to 6:30, Wilton Library, 137 Old Ridgefield Road.

Donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health. The Red Cross recommends drinking plenty of fluids on the day of donation, wearing comfortable clothing with sleeves that can be rolled up, eating iron-rich foods prior to donation, and bringing a list of any medications taken along with a photo ID or blood donor card.

The actual donation takes only about 10 to 12 minutes, but donors should allow one hour for registration, a confidential health history session and refreshments after their donation.

For information or to make an appointment, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Walk-ins will be accommodated.

Whatever your beliefs this time of year, this is a gift that crosses nearly every spiritual boundary. Generous donors who roll up their sleeves will be giving a truly life-saving gift.