Giving blood is giving life — the best gift one can give this holiday season. At a time when the demand for blood is high and blood donors are scarce, Lifespan Chief of Trauma, along with the Rhode Island Blood Center (RIBC), is asking the community to make it a priority to give blood and platelets.

Rhode Island Hospital's chief of trauma and surgical critical care, Charles A. Adams Jr., M.D., says, “People do not get a holiday from illness and injury. As surgeons, we need a constant supply of blood to save lives. Unlike other critical medical supplies, blood cannot be manufactured and has to come from a human being. A single trauma patient can need dozens of units of blood and blood products. There is no shortage of people fighting for their lives, especially around the holidays, but there can be a shortage of the volunteer blood donors we rely on to help our patients survive. Please donate blood during this special time of year.”

“People who give blood feel a strong sense of meaning and purpose in that act,” says Kara LeBlanc, manager of marketing communications at RIBC. “It’s a unique and beautiful gift that does not cost money to give and cannot be produced in a factory. A little of your time can mean a lifetime for someone else, and we don’t ever want to find ourselves in a shortage.”

Different times of year pose different challenges in making sure the community blood supply keeps pace with patient need. So far this month, the blood center is below their monthly goal by more than 300 blood products. 

LeBlanc added December and the coming winter months are the trifecta of blood supply challenges from winter weather donor and sponsor cancellations, to the start of cold and flu season, which also impacts donor turn out. Compounding the struggle is the fact that regular blood donors are trying to balance the demands of work and family holiday commitments. Over 370,000 people in Rhode Island are eligible to give blood, but only about 5 percent of the population actually donates.

The center needs to collect more than 200 donations every day to meet the needs of the patients and hospitals it serves, which includes all of Lifespan’s and Care New England’s hospitals, among others throughout New England. The need for blood goes far beyond treating trauma victims to helping women and newborns during complications with childbirth; people battling cancer, heart and kidney disease, blood disorders like sickle cell anemia, and individuals who need surgery or organ transplants.

For extra motivation during the month of December, all presenting donors at RIBC’s six blood and platelet donation centers will be automatically entered to win a $100 Amazon gift card. Community blood drive sponsors also often provide donor thank-you’s to encourage participation at their drives.

To find a center or blood drive, visit www.ribc.org. You can also call or text 401-453-8383 and the scheduling team will help you find a date, time and location that works best for you.