SOMERVILLE, NJ - For Lois Ricci, blood donation comes from the heart.

Four years ago, the Hillsborough woman gave birth to her daughter, Lucy Grace, who was born eight weeks premature and was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and transient leukemia. Every day for the two and half months of her life, she needed some type of blood product as part of her treatment.

“By the grace of God and through the generosity of donors, there was always a steady supply of blood available for her,” Ricci said. “I will be forever grateful to those anonymous people that gave that gift to our family.  Lucy's time with us, although far too brief, was a blessing.”

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Ricci is now a blood donor at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital/Somerset.

“The simple act of donating blood helps me to both honor my daughter's memory and return the kindness that was very generously extended to us,” she says.

All blood donated at RWJUH/Somerset is used for patients at the hospital, including people with cancer, accident victims, surgical patients and individuals with blood disorders. Each blood donation can save up to three lives.

“Nine out of 10 of us will need blood at some point in our lives,” said Christia Keyte, blood donor supervisor at the hospital. “By the age of 75, about 85 percent of us will need a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, the need for blood is often greater than the number of donors. Blood supplies are especially critical around the holidays and during the winter months.”

Blood donors must be at least 18 years old (16 and 17 with parental consent), weigh 110 lbs. (16 year olds must weigh 120 lbs.), feel well on the day of donation and bring a photo ID.

The Blood Donor Program is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. To schedule an appointment, visit www.rwjuhdonorclub.org or call 908-685-2926. Walk-ins are also welcome at the Blood Donor Program, which is located on the first floor of the hospital, located at 110 Rehill Ave., Somerville.