Sampson Regional needs your blood.

Though not experiencing a drastic shortage, as the hospital sometimes does, the call to donate is a means of preventing a problem before it even exists. It’s a proactive approach to an age-old issue, particularly during the winter months, of dwindling blood supplies at the very time more blood is often needed.

So, while there is no official shortage, there is a need for blood donors, and thus our plea for residents to give what is, without question, the gift of life.

History shows us that during winter months, blood donations drop off, sometimes drastically, because people are often sick or because they don’t want to venture out in colder temperatures. At the same time, the perfect storm sets itself up, with flu season beginning to peak and the need for blood increasing.

Giving now is imperative, not because there is a shortage but so there won’t be one. It’s important, you see, for the hospital to maintain a solid blood supply, even during months when donations seem to be down. And that means reaching out to those who haven’t given blood before or who have dropped off the donor list for some time.

Hospital officials have said that right now they can use donations of all blood types. Particularly important is O negative, the universal donor type, that can be given to anyone. Yet its importance increases because those who have an O negative blood type can only receive that type of blood.

Giving is relatively simple and doesn’t require a great deal of time — usually 45 minutes for first time donors and a little less for those who have donated before.

So we urge you to consider being a donor. You must be 18 or older (17 with parental consent); you cannot be taking blood-thinning medicines or antibiotics; and those diagnosed with cancer or who have had a heart attack must wait 12 months, as do those who have recently been tattooed, received a body piercing or any kind of transfusion.

The hospital likes to keep 150 units of blood on hand each month, a sizable amount but a goal that can easily be accomplished with donors.

We hope you’ll consider giving the gift of life. It’s more rewarding than one can possibly imagine. Just call the hospital today (the blood donation center is open Monday-Wednesday from 8:30 until 4 p.m.) and sign up to give blood or schedule a drive. The number to call is 592-2689, ext. 2253 or 3144.

You’ll be glad you did it.