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      Need for blood donations becomes critical in the U.P.

      For Sharl Cayer, giving blood is a monthly ritual. The retired nurse lives in Rock, and she drives 100 miles roundtrip to donate blood at the U.P. Regional Blood Center in Marquette.

      "I just feel that it's something I need to do," explained Cayer. "God has given me life, and it's a way to give life back. Being a retired nurse I just feel that there's a big necessity out there, a big need."

      Despite the center receiving a steady stream of donors, the need for blood has never been higher.

      "Currently we're experiencing a critical need for pretty much all blood types at this point--this is very untypical," said Sallie Coron, a coordinator at the U.P. Regional Blood Center.

      Fourteen hospitals in the U.P., including Marquette General, rely on the blood the center receives from various collection sites.

      Now, in an effort to get more donors, the center is reminding the public of the widespread impact one pint can have on the lives of others.

      "When you give one pint of blood, you save up to three lives," Coron said. "When you come in and give your blood, you're helping somebody in need with the precious gift of life."

      To be an eligible to donate, you must be at least 17 years of age and weigh 110 pounds. You will be expected to complete a medical questionnaire and undergo a brief consultation to ensure you're fit for the process.

      According to routine, donors, like Cayer, the five to seven minutes you spend donating blood may just end up helping you.

      "It's just an amazing feeling to know that you can give back something," Cayer said. "If you haven't tried it, just give it some thought and do it, and if it's not for you, then it's not for you. But try it once and know that what you're doing is something good."