Once again, Utahns came through.

Last week, the national headquarters of the American Red Cross issued an alert, advising the nation of the critically low blood supply and appealing for donors across the country to give blood. Even though the blood supply in Utah was sufficient to meet the needs of Utah patients, the local American Red Cross Blood Services Division stepped forward to assist the rest of the country.In a localized effort, the American Red Cross Utah Blood Services division formulated its plan to respond to the national appeal. The needs of patients in Utah hospitals would be met first but, by collecting more than blood than was needed locally, the additional blood could be redistributed to the parts of the country in crisis. The Utah blood donor centers were opened for extended hours and additional days.

At the end of the week, the Utah Blood Services Division had collected more pints of blood than was needed in Utah. The additional blood was redistributed through the national American Red Cross system to the parts of the country which had low blood supplies due to reduced donations during the recent severe winter storms.

Red Cross national headquarters is encouraging eligible donors to continue supporting their local blood centers. It will take several more days of concentrated giving before the national blood supply is at adequate levels. Utahns still need to donate, so we can continue to assist the national American Red Cross. A person can call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543) to schedule an appointment to donate blood.

A simple "thank you" cannot adequately express the gratitude of a patient in need for whom a blood donation is the gift of life. But the American Red Cross Utah Blood Services Division knows of no better way to tell the people and the media of Utah that they have made a difference in the lives of critically ill and injured people across the country. So, simply, thank you, from every person who has received blood, the gift of life.

Gary J. Ouellette

Chief operating officer, American Red Cross