Red Cross in need of blood donors

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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) -- March is Red Cross month, and News 10 is proud to partner up with the Red Cross on this important initiative.

We're highlighting how important Red Cross blood donations are to people whose lives depend on blood donors.

One local woman's battle with cancer wouldn't be possible without them.

Debi King has cancer for the second time.

"I was originally diagnosed 10 years ago with ovarian cancer. At the same time, my daughter had breast cancer. We carry the braca gene," King said.

Often times when patients go through chemotherapy, their blood platelet count can become low, causing complications. That's what happened to King and she had to have blood transfusions to receive chemo.

"But then what happened was they didn't have my exact blood type. I'm going to the University of Michigan Health Center and I thought they would have so much blood but they didn't have my particular type," she said.

That inspired her husband to become a donor.

"He just was so thankful that our outcomes were so good that he wanted to do something to donate," she said.

Right now in Michigan, the Red Cross says it is experiencing a blood shortage because severe winter weather canceled several blood drives.

"We had 20,000 blood and platelet donations go uncollected because of the storms. We're still trying to climb back from the holidays, as well," said Todd Kulman, of American Red Cross Michigan.

Blood platelet donations are especially needed because they're only good for a few days.

"The shelf life is only five days so once the platelets are donated here at our donor center, they are immediately taken for testing and almost immediately heading to the hospitals," Kulman said.

When the supply is so low, Kulman says your donation will make a difference right away.

"We like to have at least a five-day supply on hand at all times as far as blood and platelets. Right now, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply. So basically, the blood and platelet donations, they're being sent to the hospital almost as soon as they're coming in," he said.

"From the tiniest baby, to your best friend, to your grandmother and grandfather, there's somebody. And it doesn't cost a thing," King said.

The Red Cross is asking everyone to consider donating, but especially those with Type O blood.

You can find a blood drive near you by going to redcross.org.