For the past two years, my dad has been fighting a rare form of cancer called myelofibrosis. With myelofibrosis, a person’s bone marrow dries up and their body doesn’t produce blood. Both are a necessity. My Dad has had two bone marrow/stem cell transplants in the last year and after extensive chemo and radiation and the transplants coupled with weekly blood transfusions, it appears that my Dad is starting to get better. But just because he’s getting better doesn’t mean that the fight is over. Things could go back to really bad and really fast. Dad still needs regular blood transfusions and if it weren't for selfless donors, we'd be in really big trouble.

Did you know that every three seconds somebody needs a blood transfusion? How about that 20% of blood recipients are little kids who are fighting cancer? Or that by donating just one pint of blood, you can save up to three lives?

Apprehensive about donating blood? Here are some reasons you might want to consider pushing aside those apprehensions:

1. About 60 percent of the population is eligible to donate blood, but less than 4 percent do.

2. At least 500 pints of blood must be collected every day to meet the needs of area patients.

3. We import more than 20 percent of our blood supply because we don’t have enough blood donors.

4. If donors gave two to four times a year, it would prevent blood shortages.

5. Donating blood is like a mini medical checkup. Before donating you’ll have the chance to find out if your pulse, blood pressure, body temperature, cholesterol and hemoglobin levels and other vital signs are healthy or not.

6. Donating blood is also a fast and safe way of losing weight because you burn 650 calories every time you donate.

7. According to the Miller-Keystone Blood Center, regular blood donation is associated with lowered risks for cancer including lung, colon, liver, throat and stomach cancers. So if you want to help lower your risk of cancer, donate blood regularly.

8. While this hasn’t been proven, lots of doctors say that blood donors have fewer cases of heart diseases than non-donors. The Florida Blood Services reports that people who donate blood regularly over the years have an 88% lower risk of heart attack and a 33% lower risk of any severe cardiovascular event, such as stroke. By donating blood regularly, you can prevent blood from thickening too much. So when you give blood, the blood that remains in your body goes through a process called as hemodilution, making your blood diluted or thinner.

9. Donating blood is not only 100% safe, but it doesn’t cost a dime.

10. And the biggest reason? You could end up saving a life. A life like my Dad’s.

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