GRAY – Former Gov. Angus King, the American Red Cross, LifeFlight and Central Maine Medical Center joined to alert the public about the need to increase the blood supply over the summer months.

“Summertime means more people visiting the state of Maine, more people out and about and more outside activities. So this summer, we want to make sure that there is an adequate supply of blood on hand just in case,” said King.

“You never expect to need the services of the Red Cross, but when you need them, it’s reassuring to know that they are always there. So I’m asking everyone to please pitch in, donate blood and help the American Red Cross continue the crucial work they do.”

A safe and ample blood supply is a community-wide responsibility. Blood must be available whenever and wherever it is needed for patients. National supplies are low and locally the region is already beginning to feel the impact of the summer when blood collections significantly decline because the schools are out and people are on vacation. The need often increases during the summer months in New England because more people are visiting the region, said Red Cross officials.

The Red Cross launched a region-wide public awareness campaign called Consider Yourself Asked. The campaign is intended to educate the public about the need for blood and empower them to come in and donate. The Red Cross is working with area hospitals, key community leaders, patients and celebrities across New England as part of the campaign to ask people to come in to donate blood.

“Many people say they have not donated blood simply because they have not been asked. Well, Consider Yourself Asked,” said Dr. Mary O’Neill, chief executive officer for the American Red Cross Blood Services New England Region.

“The need is real. The need is now. Please donate at your local hospital or call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE to donate at an American Red Cross donor center or community blood drive,” Dr. O’Neill added.

A Durham resident and recent blood recipient participated in the press conference. “I live today knowing that people I have never met selflessly gave of themselves so that I could have the chance to live the rest of my life” said Gerry LaBonte. “People who donate blood are heroes plain and simple,” he added.

“We know first hand that it is crucial to patients that lifesaving blood be available,” said Chuck Gill, vice president of public affairs for Central Maine Medical Center. “When we are trying to save the life of a patient that has been in a car accident or has suffered trauma, we need to know that blood is readily available. With the help of LifeFlight and the American Red Cross, we were able to provide Gerry LaBonte the care he needed to save his life,” Gill added.

Blood donors must be 17 years or older, there is no upper age limit, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good heath. People are encouraged to call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE to make an appointment or visit www.newenglandblood.org.


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