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'I donated in the '70s' | Longtime blood donors share why they keep coming back

At Thursday's Health Fair 11 Winter Blood Drive, KARE 11 partnered with the American Red Cross to collect blood from more than 75 Minnesotans.

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. — Nowadays, Sally Chicos doesn't give a second thought to giving blood. It's something she's made time for over the course of five decades.

"I think I donated in the ’70s... way back when I was 15 or 16 years old, at the local American Legion," Chicos said. "That's 50 years almost!"

Chicos, of St. Louis Park, was one of more than 75 Minnesotans who stopped by the Health Fair 11 Winter Blood Drive at Minneapolis Marriott West in St. Louis Park. During the six-hour event, KARE 11 partnered with the American Red Cross to collect enough blood to help with more than 200 people's medical treatment. 

"I think it's important," Chicos said. "I’m happy to help out the sick people in the world. I’ve always been healthy, so I’m happy to donate to people who are less fortunate."

Mark Ray, another donor at Thursday's event, said he, too, has been donating since high school.

"I've given over 53 units of blood now," Ray said. "I think for me, it’s a way I can actually help people who are really in need. Whether it’s a blood transfusion because they’ve had a major crash or cancer… I can help them. Even if I don't know them, it's a way to make a difference."

Donors like Ray and Chicos are needed now more than ever. Dr. Claudia Cohn, chief medical officer for the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies, said blood supply is typically low during winter months.

"Because of the holidays, travel schedules, inclement weather and illness," Dr. Cohn said in a release from the University of Minnesota Medical School Thursday. "But, the need for blood still exists — victims of car accidents still arrive in emergency departments and cancer patients still require chemotherapy, for example, both of which use life-saving blood transfusions."

The next Health Fair 11 Blood Drive takes place on Mar. 23.

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