Wilton editorial: The gift of life

The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive on Dec. 23, from 1 to 6 p.m., at Wilton Library.

The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive on Dec. 23, from 1 to 6 p.m., at Wilton Library.

MirageC / Getty Images

The need for blood never takes a holiday. And in this season of giving, so there’s never been a better time to give a gift that will cost you nothing.

In the midst of holiday shopping, cooking and partying, please carve out a few minutes to donate blood. The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive on Monday, Dec. 23, from 1 to 6:30 p.m., at Wilton Library, 137 Old Ridgefield Road. For an appointment, call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org. Walk-ins will be accommodated. A positive ID is required.

Unlike a can of vegetables that might be good for two years, blood has a short shelf life.

Many people of all ages need blood: cancer patients, women with complications during pregnancy or childbirth, accident victims, those undergoing surgery. According to the American Red Cross, about one in seven people entering a hospital needs blood.

People with any number of diseases, such as sickle cell disease need regular transfusions. Donated blood is also used to make clotting factors for people with hemophilia.

Right now, there is a critical need for type O blood donors. There is no easier way to save a life, or several if your blood is separated in to red cells, platelets and plasma.

Donors can save time by completing a RapidPass. The entire donation process only takes about an hour, but donors can save time with RapidPass. Pre-donation reading and health history questions can be completed online to save about 15 minutes.

Donors will get important health information. Donors receive a mini-health screening to help determine eligibility that includes blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin readings. First-time donors will also find out their blood type soon after donating.

Those who would like to donate but can’t make it next Monday can search for a blood drive by ZIP code using the Red Cross Blood Donor App or by visiting RedCrossBlood.org. You can even enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.