DEAR ABBY: For a grandmother fighting leukemia, a child battling sickle cell anemia, or a parent awaiting a liver transplant, a safe and available blood supply is more than a wish -- it's a necessity. Our goal is to ensure that blood is available to patients when they need it.
We encourage our nation's citizens to donate blood. Our call to action comes at a time when blood supplies are perilously low.
Blood has a shelf life of only 42 days. The supply must be constantly replenished. Donors can safely give blood up to six times a year. To avert shortages, please ask your readers to donate.
Blood donation is safe and takes only one hour. To be eligible to donate, you must be at least 17 years of age (some states permit younger teens to donate with parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. The single unit of blood you donate could help to save the lives of up to three people.
To learn more about donating blood and to locate a nearby blood collection facility, contact one of the following organizations today: American Association of Blood Banks: (866) 376-6968 or www.aabb.org; American Red Cross: (800) 448-3543 or www.redcross.org; America's Blood Centers: (888) 872-5663 or www.americasblood.org.
-- KAREN SHOOS LIPTON, CEO, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF BLOOD BANKS
DEAR KAREN: I'm pleased to pass along your important message. No one can predict when a life-threatening emergency might strike -- and a national blood supply is something many of us take for granted. This is something that can affect all of us, so, my friends, let's roll up our sleeves and make sure that our hospitals and emergency centers are well stocked.