There are thousands of people with stories about how blood donations have helped them.

Marquita, a teen, has sickle-cell disease and must get transfusions every few weeks.

There is Lindsey, a 2-year-old with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, who spent 130 nights in a hospital and received 100 transfusions of blood, platelets and frozen plasma in a year.

And Katie, a young woman who fell off a boat and was run over; she lost her left arm, but she survived with her life.

The Red Cross is sharing these stories as part of its “Summer of Stories” campaign to raise awareness on the importance of blood donation.

But it is looking for more stories to tell.

Share yours

The “Summers of Stories” program was launched on Memorial Day because the summer is the most challenging time for blood donation. Fewer people donate blood during June, July and August; most are on vacation or out of school.

Jamie Muldrow, the Red Cross' communications manager for the state's Blood Services Region, said most people don't think about donating blood until someone close to them needs blood.

Most have never been asked to give blood, but giving is an ongoing need, she said.

Thirty-eight percent of the population is eligible to donate blood; only 3 percent actually do.

Giving is simple. To be eligible, you must be 17 years old, (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and generally be in good health. A blood-donor card or driver's license or two other forms of identification are required.

Types O, B are key

All blood types are needed. However, there is a high demand for blood types O and B. Seventy percent of African-Americans have these two blood types, Muldrow said.

African-American donors are needed to make sure all blood types are available for patients with critical medical needs.

Some, such as those with sickle-cell disease, require frequent blood transfusions that closely match their own blood.

Frequently, the best-matched blood comes from someone with the same ethnic background, Red Cross officials say.

About 51 percent of African- Americans have type O blood, as well as 57 percent of Hispanics and 45 percent of whites.

Officials frequently send out post cards to previous donors of type O blood because of the high demand.

Muldrow said they also reach out to donors who are A positive and AB positive, because these blood types are most important for platelets, which last only five days.

The Red Cross provides blood for 54 hospitals in the state and Georgia. It needs 500 people to donate each weekday to keep up with demand.

Some stats

Nearly 5 million people need blood transfusions each year.

One in 10 persons entering the hospital needs blood.

Every two seconds, someone in America needs blood.

What will you do about it?

To tell your story or donate blood or platelets, call 800-733-2767 or visit redcrossblood.org/summer.

Reach Assistant Features Editor Shirley A. Greene at 937-5555.