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Red Cross says blood donations down 50%

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MILWAUKEE -- The American Red Cross has reported it is in dire need of blood donors, and is looking to the public for help.

Four-year-old Brian Pinkalla was two years old when he was diagnosed with cancer. Brian had to have his kidney removed and a tumor removed and also get radiation and chemotheraphy for six months. Now, he's on his feet and full of energy and his story of survival is encouraging individuals to donate blood to help people like him.

"He is alive today because of blood donors," Brian's mother, Tara Pinkalla said.

"If they would donate for their own son or girl, they would maybe donate for another child too," Brian's father, Trevor Pinkalla said.

Jeff Herbert used to avoid giving blood, but after the first time donating, he says he was hooked. Now, he encourages others to take that small first step.

"Put it in your heart to at least give it one try and then once you see how it rewards somebody else, you'll see it in your heart why you should keep doing it over and over," Herbert said.

The American Red Cross says they are facing a 50% decrease in blood donations from this time last year, and desperately need donors.

"It's the summer months so people are off doing their summer activities. I think our heat brought in a lot of people doing things earlier," Red Cross CEO Patty Flowers said.

Flowers hoped to lead by example by making her own blood donation Tuesday.

"I have a very dear friend who's in surgery right now at one of our local hospitals, so I'm donating in honor of him," Flowers said.

In addition to normal donation hours, local Red Cross chapters and the Blood Center of Wisconsin have blood drives planned throughout the area.

CLICK HERE to search for a local blood drive through the Blood Center of Wisconsin's website.

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