Currently, the American Red Cross has declared a blood emergency in the state of Connecticut. It is time for you to get out there and donate some blood.

According to Connecticut's Commissioner of Public Health and representatives of Connecticut Children's Medical Center, the state's blood emergency affects patient care and is a serious public health issue.

"Blood must be on the shelf, tested, ready, and available for everyday personal emergencies and large-scale manmade or natural disasters," said DPH Commissioner J. Robert Galvin. "By giving blood, individuals can make a real difference in the health of Connecticut."

Larry Gold, president and chief executive officer of Connecticut Children's Medical Center, put the current situation in tangible terms.

He said patients at the Connecticut Children's Medical Center use about 60 pints of blood or blood products each week, which is about the same amount the medical center collects in one day's blood drive. Gold said there is an urgent need for blood.

The blood shortage continues in Connecticut and around the nation due to a number of contributing factors, including holiday travel, breaks from school and an unusually strong outbreak of flu.

Blood must be on the shelf, ready and available for everyday emergencies and large-scale disasters. If supplies are not replenished, surgeries may be cancelled and patient care may be compromised.

Americans underestimate the country's need for blood transfusions. Every two seconds, someone in America needs blood," said Gary Wandmacher, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross, Connecticut Blood Services Region. "We are urging those who have not already come forward to please be part of this recovery effort by scheduling an appointment to donate now."

Most healthy people who are at least 17 years old and weigh 110 pounds or more are eligible to donate every 56 days. To make an appointment for this or any other Red Cross blood drive call 1-800-GIVE LIFE or visit www.bloodct.org to find a listing of community blood drives.

Upcoming Blood Drives include Feb 2, B'Nai Jacob, 75 Rimmon Rd., Woodbridge, Feb 5, Pyramid Shrine Temple, 349 Wheelers Farm Rd., Milford and Feb. 16. St. Mary's School, 70 Gulf St., Milford.