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Inside Kentucky Health

There are so many good reasons to give blood.

It makes you feel better about giving a part of yourself to help others. It’s a way to pay tribute to others who may have lost their lives through tragedy. And there are some surprisingly important health benefits for you, too.

Donating regularly may help increase blood flow, leading to a lower risk of heart attacks. In fact, the American Journal of Epidemiology found that blood donors are 88% less likely to suffer a heart attack.

Plus, you get a free mini-check-up when you donate. Technicians take your blood pressure and check your temperature and pulse. Then, once you’ve donated, your blood is checked for diseases and you are notified if there’s any sort of issue. It’s also important to check your iron levels, another benefit of blood donation.

Still, the most important benefit is that a single blood donation can save the lives of three people.

The need is always there, according to the American Red Cross, and September is an especially challenging time because it’s such a busy month.

“When we put out the urgent need call that means blood products are flying off the shelves as quickly as they come in,” said Lindsay English, External Communications Manager for the local chapter of the American Red Cross. “The blood you donate today could be saving a patient’s life just days later.”

Annual Report 2011According to the Red Cross, the most urgent need is for blood donors with types O-Negative, B-Negative and A-Negative, and donor centers are working hard to replenish supplies after a typical summer season decline in donations.

The Red Cross has several promotions going on in September to encourage donations, including a push for those affected by the 9/11 tragedy.

“Giving blood is a meaningful way to pay tribute to those who lost their lives and those who rose up in service in response to Sept. 11,” English said. “It won’t cost you anything to do it but a little bit of time.”

There are more tangible benefits of giving blood, as well. For example, if you give blood during the Red Cross’ “Bleed Red Bleed Blue Blood Drive” on Sept. 16 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel near the Fairgrounds, you walk away with a chicken dinner and a coupon for a free pint of Graeter’s Ice Cream, along with all the other good feelings you will get.

“Large, special-event blood drives like the Bleed Red Bleed Blue drive really help boost the blood supply, with several hundred donors coming through the door to selflessly give,” said English. “If’s a fun way to make a difference in your own community and show your team spirit at the same time.”

Also, the Red Cross has partnered with Sport Clips to provide free haircuts to donors during the month of September. It’s called the “Saving Lives Never Looked So Good” promotion.

To find a time and location where you can give blood, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment. You must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and generally be in good shape.