At hospitals and clinics across the state, the need for blood knows no season, but donations tend to drop this time of year.

That's why officials are urging Arkansans to roll up their sleeves to give a lifesaving gift. American Red Cross spokesman Dan Fox noted that between school vacations, inclement weather and busy schedules, the number of donations declines over the holidays, while the need for blood in local hospitals remains constant.

"These could be car accident victims, trauma victims; they could be people undergoing surgery, women going through childbirth, premature babies, cancer patients. Every two seconds, somebody in this country needs a blood donation," Fox said.

The American Red Cross estimates that one in 10 people admitted to the hospital will require a blood transfusion. In Arkansas, donors must be at least 17 years old - age 16, with parental permission - and in good health.

Fox said many people don't think about giving blood until they hear about hospitals facing shortages, or there's been some sort of major tragedy, but he stresses that the blood donations need to be on hospital shelves before emergencies hit.

"It's vitally important to donate blood not just when you hear about a natural disaster or something on the news, because that way we can make sure that blood is available to all patients who need it," he said.

Although nearly 40 percent of people in the U.S. are eligible to give blood, less than 10 percent actually do give each year.

More information is online at