UPDATE 08/3/12 @ 6:30 p.m.
ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Blood supplies at the American Red Cross are at a 15-year low, and the agency is urging people to donate as soon as possible.
James Adkins, 59, of Paintsville, Ky., is sitting in a hospital bed at King's Daughters Medical Center in Ashland. Adkins is alive, thanks to the kindness of strangers who've donated blood.
"This has been my first, ever, transfusion," Adkins said. "I'm grateful to those people who are donating. There is a real shortage of blood of all types. I took them a while to get mine together because it was so rare."
The American Red Cross is offering a weekly drawing for a $500 gift card through the month of August. You have to be a donor to be eligible.
You can find more information about the giveaway and find the time and dates of blood drives in our area by clicking on the Featured Links here at WSAZ.com.
Nationally, donations are down 10 percent. That boils down to 50,000 fewer units leaving the inventory, with half the readily available blood products than this time last year.
For Nick Arceneux, this might as well be liquid gold -- his gift to others as a never-ending repayment for a gift to him.
“My oldest daughter was born premature, and I don't remember how many pints they had to give her, so I donate faithfully,” Arceneux said.
Fellow donor Margaret Bird said, “It's the least I can do, if someone can use it."
Bird understands what it means to give the gift of life and practices what she preaches.
“I taught biology and I brow beat my students into giving," she said. "So, put your money where your mouth is, Bird."
They are just a few of the faithful who help keep up the blood supply at the American Red Cross. But, times are tough -- much tougher than usual during this already typically tough time of the year.
“We need to have adequate supplies of all blood types every day," said Cheryl Gergely with the American Red Cross. "We need to have a five-day supply. Right now, we have a one day supply of most blood types."
Gergely says the reason for an even tougher June can most likely be blamed on the weather.
“We had a very warm start to the spring and when it gets warm, people get busy with other activities outside," Gergely said. "We need people to realize we need blood every day."
“Life is important; blood is life," John Call said. "I guess I have that opportunity to give."
And if that's not motivation enough, Call puts a unique spin on giving blood.
“I always thought of it like an oil change. If I give blood, it gives my body a chance to make new blood, as well as giving somebody else a chance to live,” Call said.
You can give blood every 56 days. So, if it's been longer than two months since your last donation, the Red Cross would love you see you soon.
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