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Make your New Year’s resolution to save a life.

If you are in an emergency situation, a unit of blood could literally save your life. During the winter months, the need for that blood is even more critical. In honor of  National Blood Donor Month, hear the story of a woman who says blood donations saved her life and learn more about how you can get involved.

If anyone knows firsthand how important and life-saving a unit of blood is, it is Meredith Forrester. Meredith was a victim of the 1999 Day Trader shooting in Buckhead. Following her injury, Forrester needed more than 115 pints of blood. “I was shot once in the back with a hollow bullet, which my doctor described as a guided missile,” she explains.

During triage, she says she appeared to be okay because her vitals were fine and she was not bleeding heavily. However, when she underwent surgery, she began bleeding out because the bullet destroyed one of the two main veins in her heart.

She attributes two factors to saving her life: her skilled surgeon and his team, and the units of blood given by donors. “Two days before the shooting, there was a shortage of blood at the blood bank and there wasn’t even 115 pints on hand, let alone 115 pints of the kind of blood I needed,” Forrester explains. “I am painfully aware of how important blood donation is.”

How You Can Save a Life

“Here in Georgia, we need type O and type B a little bit more than type A and type AB,” says April Phillips communications director at the American Red Cross Southeast Blood Services Division. “Type O is the universal blood donor group and type O-negative is a universal blood type. So, regardless of a patient’s blood type in an emergency situation, they can receive O negative blood.”

So how exactly is donated blood used? “Many people typically think of accident or trauma victims, but the truth is surgery patients, such as those undergoing heart surgery, cancer patients, and joint replacement patients could use anywhere from two to 100 units of blood,” Phillips says.

Your Donation Makes a Difference

“I look at people who donate blood and know they are saving the lives of up to three people,” Forrester says. “There is a constant need for blood. We consistently have shortages in the southern region and it takes less than an hour of a person’s time, but it really makes a tremendous impact.” Find a blood donation opportunity in your area.

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