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Blood providers urgently need donors to alleviate ‘dire’ shortage

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Blood drive workers

Carley Harris, Perri Berry and Nakita Calloway, employees of LifeSouth, prepare for blood donors during a recent visit of the mobile van to The Oxford Exchange.

The lead doctor for the Alabama Hospital Association strongly encourages people to not only donate blood but to start local drives in order to replenish the state’s very low supply.

Two of the leading organizations that help to maintain an adequate blood supply are LifeSouth and the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross is reporting a nationwide shortage of blood, much of that due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Donor turnout has reached the lowest levels of the year, decreasing by about 10 percent since August,” the Red Cross reported in a press release.

Dr. Don Williamson, Alabama Hospital Association president and CEO, told The Anniston Star the need for blood within the state is just as dire.

“The major blood supply for Alabama hospitals is LifeSouth and they have reported a 15 to 20 percent decrease in donations due to COVID-19.”

He said that organization is now reporting “a crisis situation.”

“They are saying they have on average less than two days of blood available on the shelves,” Williamson said. 

Williamson said the major need is for Type O blood, a universal blood type that can be used with anyone and is always needed for emergency transfusions.

While LifeSouth is the major supplier for Alabama hospitals, Williamson does not discourage donating blood through the Red Cross, which operates as a cooperative with other states that can be helped by Alabama donations or can receive assistance from donors of other states.

The American Red Cross, in partnership with Amazon, is now offering perks for those donating through its service.

Red Cross donations through Nov. 12 receive a chance at a trip for two to Hawaii, and those donating through Nov. 23 get a $10 electronic gift card from Amazon.

“The real fear is as we move into the holiday season with more people traveling, it wouldn’t take anything more than a few serious motor vehicle accidents to overwhelm the blood supply of most hospitals around the state,” Williamson said.

“We are certainly supportive of the idea that anyone who can donate blood should take advantage of it, especially as we approach the holidays,” he added. “And, we are just as supportive of anybody who can sponsor a blood drive — schools, hospitals, churches. People that can sponsor a blood drive, now is the time to sponsor one. It would be a real tragedy to have worked so hard to get through the COVID, only to see the blood supply potentially cripple our response in dealing with major traumas.” 

Perri Berry, an employee of LifeSouth, says her choice to be involved with blood donations is a personal one.

“I applied for this job because my grandmother had to get transfusions and I was a very new phlebotomist,” Berry said. “My grandmother had to have blood transfusions all the time and so this is very personal for me.”

“Our job is to come to work and save people’s lives,” Berry said. “Not many people get to say that.”

Following is a list of some of the blood drives planned for this year by the two organizations mentioned:

RED CROSS

Nov. 12

Oxford Civic Center,

401 McCullars Lane – 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Nov. 22

Oxford Civic Center,

401 McCullars Lane – Noon – 6 p.m.

Nov. 26

AmStar Cinemas,

700 Quintard Drive, Oxford –

Noon – 6 p.m.

LIFESOUTH

Nov. 10

Munford Middle/High School –

8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Nov. 11

Walmart, Plaza Lane, Oxford –

10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Nov. 12

Walmart, Pelham Rd. S.,

Jacksonville – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.