Looking for the perfect gift to give this holiday season? Consider giving the gift that keeps on giving — blood.

The need is great: Think of just the Mayo Clinic in nearby Rochester. According to the clinic’s statistics, about 80,000 units of blood products are transfused at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester each year. And that’s just in Rochester. Think of how many other medical facilities there are in this state and this country.

But let’s step away from impersonal numbers. Think of that relative or that friend who had a hip replacement, cardiac bypass surgery or liver transplant. Typically, a hip replacement uses one unit of blood. Bypass surgery usually requires two units. And a liver transplant? That’s about six units.

Last year in the United States, more than 1.6 million people were diagnosed with cancer. According to City of Hope, many of those cancer patients will need blood — some daily — during chemotherapy. To treat those patients, more than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day.

That’s a lot of blood.

The problem is that during the holiday season, blood donations drop, oftentimes by as much as 25 percent. With less blood available, transfusions and treatment become more difficult and costly.

One pint of blood can typically help as many as three people. That is a fantastic gift to give, and it only takes an hour to donate.

There will be several opportunities in the upcoming weeks for you to donate in Rice County, and we hope you’ll roll up your sleeve. The next one is from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Culver’s in Northfield. Donate and grab yourself a concrete mixer for a reward. Don’t want to go that far? Stay in Faribault and give at the Eagles Club, where a drive will be held from 1-7 p.m. on Dec. 11.

As the Mayo Clinic says, “Blood cannot be manufactured. It can only come as a gift from people like you.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Reach Managing Editor Jaci Smith at 333-3134, or follow her at Twitter.com @FDNJaciSmith

Wife, mother, managing editor of the Faribault Daily News and wannabe great American novel writer.

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