Blood donors needed as holidays arrive

For every pint of blood donated, up to three lives can be saved. Red blood cells, platelets and plasma can work their magic in restoring health to accident and disaster victims and the seriously ill.

But blood donations tend to fall off during the winter months with school breaks, holidays and family vacations. Many regular donors are out of pocket and unavailable to donate those life-saving pints. Who will take up the slack?

That’s the question Meagan Johnson of the American Red Cross posed on Monday as she spoke to the Greenville Lions.

“The Red Cross is the primary supplier of blood to both LV Stabler and Georgiana hospitals, and yet Butler County has one of the lowest percentages of donations, and that’s a little scary,” Johnson said.

“While blood can be transferred from other counties, what if these other places do not have enough extra to share with Butler County?”

This summer, Johnson said the organization had to send out a general appeal for every blood type, and it is hoping they will not need a repeat this winter.

Of the 40 percent of Alabamians who are eligible to donate blood, only 4 percent actually do, she said.

“So we are doing our best to encourage more people to get out and give the gift of life and to host blood drives. We have programs for students where they can earn up to $2,000 in scholarship monies through reaching goals in units donated at a drive; we have other incentives in place,” Johnson said.

Johnson pointed out many of the restrictions of the past in being eligible no longer apply.

“If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, and are on medications and have the conditions under control, you can be a donor. If you have tattoos, you can donate blood. The rules are always changing, so check before you assume you would be ineligible,” Johnson said. Donating blood takes about 30 minutes from answering a series of questions to having the blood drawn and enjoying your juice and crackers afterwards. All donors receive a complimentary T-shirt, too.

An opportunity to be a ARC donor is coming up on Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Pioneer Electric in Greenville.

Lion Angela Green, a Pioneer employee, said she was planning to donate blood for the very first time.

“If I am going to encourage people to do this, I need to be willing to do it myself,” she said. “I hope many people will join us.”

Johnson said she had heard many stories about friends and relatives who had required large amounts of blood.

“Often, we don’t think of giving blood until there’s a personal crisis. If we give when things are going well, we can help avoid a crisis situation being even worse.”