Local family gives thanks for blood donors   ST. JAMES, Minn. (Nov. 11, 2019) The American Red Cross will host the 15th annual Thanksgiving Day blood drive at the National Guard Training Center, 521 Armstrong Blvd. N., from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. All who come to donate will receive a complimentary pie, courtesy of Superfair Foods, and a long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.   The Watson family of St. James are thankful for blood donors who make it a tradition to give back in such a meaningful way. Blood donations made a lifesaving difference for their daughter, Annie.   In August 2017, Annie’s pediatrician discovered she had diabetes insipidus, an uncommon disorder that creates an imbalance of fluids in the body. This condition is usually caused by damage to the pituitary gland. An MRI of Annie’s brain showed a tumor on her pituitary gland and a biopsy revealed a germinoma tumor – requiring chemotherapy and radiation treatments.   Annie’s chemotherapy destroyed her red blood cells causing her hemoglobin to drop. She received multiple blood and platelet transfusions to help her body tolerate the treatments.   “Our family is grateful for the generosity of blood donors because they helped save our daughter’s life, and the lives of so many others,” said her mother Abby Watson. “Without the blood transfusions that Annie received she would not have survived.”   Annie has been in remission for 14 months and enjoys doing what many other 10-year-olds like to do. She loves to draw, play with her sisters and friends, read and play volleyball.   “We want to encourage everyone to donate blood this Thanksgiving,” Watson continued. “Our family knows firsthand what a difference a blood transfusion can make. It only takes an hour out of your day to give this amazing gift of life.”   The annual tradition of rolling up a sleeve before gathering with family for Thanksgiving dinner is unique to St. James and is the only Red Cross community-sponsored Thanksgiving Day blood drive in Minnesota. In the past 14 years, nearly 2,700 lifesaving blood donations have been given at this annual event.   Donors are needed in the weeks leading up to the holidays to help ensure blood is available for patients throughout the holiday season. A decline in donations occurs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day when donors are busy with holiday activities and travel. However, medical treatments and emergencies that require blood don’t stop for the holidays.   How to donate blood Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.   Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.   About the American Red Cross The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.