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On Giving Tuesday, Red Cross wants to roll up your sleeve

On Giving Tuesday, the Red Cross asks to roll up your sleeves
On Giving Tuesday, the Red Cross asks to roll up your sleeves 02:15

CHICAGO (CBS) -- We know it may be a hard time financially for many, especially with the holidays right around the corner, but there are other ways you can give back.

One is rolling up your sleeve and donating blood.  CBS 2's  Audrina Sinclair explains.

"You just don't know when a crisis may hit. We always want to be prepared."

Demond Ausley knows what it takes to keep Chicago's blood supply stocked. He's been on the front lines of coordinating the Red Cross' response for more than 16 years.

"Every day here in Chicago, we need about 1,200 people to roll up their sleeves and donate so we can meet the demand here in the Chicagoland area for blood," Ausley said.

The Red Cross services five local hospitals and the demand can differ by the day.

"The unfortunate thing we have here in Chicago, it's a major city. It's just not liver transplants and heart transplants. It can be emergencies, accidents on the road," Ausley said. "Also with the sickle cell population here in Chicago as well and cancer patients as well. So it's always a constant need for blood."

The Red Cross now has three permanent donation sites in Orland Park, Schaumburg, and on the West Side. Of the approximately 60% of people who are eligible to donate blood, only about 3% actually donate blood.

Marie Fuesel wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for those donations because 11 ago, she was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.

Over the course of 14 months, she needed 100 units of blood and platelets.

"I wouldn't have lived a month had I not gotten started getting blood," said Fuesel, who is now in remission.

"One donation can save three lives. Nothing goes to waste here at the American Red Cross.  We want to be good stewards of the blood supply because somebody took the time to donate their blood, their time their efforts to make sure we can have blood for everybody," Ausley said.

How long does your donation last?  Red blood cells are good for 42 days, and plasma for one year from the time of donation. Platelets are only good for five days.

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