Blood donations drop significantly during the summer months due to vacations. By donating a pint of blood today, the life you help save could be your own.

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Larry Deal has donated so many pints of blood that he no longer cares how many it is. Deal, a Black Mountain resident who has organized several blood drives, has been giving blood for 30 years. But he has become passionate about it for the past 10.

“I give as often as the Red Cross will allow me to,” he said. The American Red Cross has a tally on how many pints he’s donated, but the number is irrelavent to Deal. “I am going to keep on giving because it makes me feel good and it helps others,” he said. “I’m not counting.”

With two months of summer left, the Red Cross is encouraging people to add blood donation to their summer to-do-list. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.

Summer is one of the most difficult times to collect enough blood to meet patient needs. Some 90 percent of donors surveyed by the American Red Cross during this spring planned to take a vacation this summer, which likely makes them less available to give. Also, many schools that host blood drives are out for the summer. But the need for blood donations is constant.

Donors of all blood types are needed, especially those with types O negative, A negative and B negative. The American Red Cross must collect 15,000 blood donations every day to meet the needs of patients at approximately 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide.

Andrea McNair, owner of Seven Sisters Craft Gallery in Black Mountain, is a regular blood donor.

“I donate four times a year and have been doing so for the past three years,” she said. “I donated blood 20 years ago and developed a fear of needles from it. I decided to get over my fear by facing it head on and started donating again.

“It is important to donate blood,” she said, “and each time it gets easier and the fear is less. Donating blood makes a personal difference in lives. It takes about 30 minutes to donate a pint of blood.”

Deal is the owner of New Earth Shelter and builds timberframe homes.

“Back in 2007 when the economic bubble burst, we didn’t have money to donate but we had blood. It became even more important to give back to the community. In 2012, I decided that my company would organize a blood drive (working through the Red Cross), and to date we have held 15 drives. Our goal is to hold one every eight weeks year-round. For our next drive coming up on July 23, the Red Cross has set our goal at 50 pints of blood, (for) which we need about 60 volunteers. We always need more volunteers.”

Deal says that the local blood drives have collected 689 blood units or pints during the 15 drives he has helped organize. That’s 107 percent of the goal set for him by American Red Cross.

“We’ve missed our goal only twice in four years,” he said. “We have people here in Black Mountain at the conference centers or visiting that see our blood drive signs and stop to give blood as a family. That’s a good feeling, since every pint of blood saves three lives. I am grateful for all of our regular donors, like Amanda McNair and Chip Craig who has a rare blood type. He donates doubles every 16 weeks.”

The American Red Cross requires that blood donors be in good general health, weigh at least 110 pounds, be 17 years old (or 16 with written parental consent), have eaten a solid meal and be well hydrated.

Donating blood is as easy as making an appointment by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-Red Cross (1-800-733-2767).

Want to donate?

The next Black Mountain blood drives are July 23, from 10:30-3:30 p.m. at the Black Mountain Fire Department and from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Black Mountain Neuro-Medical Center.

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