Summer is the time to roll up your sleeve and make a lifesaving blood donation.
Columbia County EMA is holding a blood drive Thursday to help boost low blood supplies at Shepeard Community Blood Center.
“The EMA Community Blood Drives are held in March, June and November each year,” said Pam Tucker, Columbia County Emergency and Operations Division director. “These are all critical time frames when blood donations drop and the EMA Community Blood Drives help tremendously, since we get an average of 225 donations at each of our three drives. When emergencies or disasters occur, we want to help Shepeard to have all of the blood needed by our local hospitals to save lives.”
The drive will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Evans Government Center auditorium on Ronald Reagan Drive in Evans and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Columbia County Roads and Bridges building on Columbia Road in Appling.
Shepeard supplies blood and blood products to 20 area hospitals, including the Joseph M. Still Burn Center.
The need for blood typically increases in summer as people are more active, traveling more and opting for more elective surgery, said Pam Rascon, director of Community Resources for the blood center. But donations and blood supplies usually drop in summer.
“People are on vacation, their schedules change,” Rascon said. “Kids are out of school. Everybody’s schedule gets thrown out of sync.”
Donations at blood drives at high schools in the 22 counties the blood center serves makes up about 17 percent of annual collections. During the summer, there’s no way to reach this group of donors.
“That’s just such a generous gift to the blood supply,” Rascon said. “But during the summer when school is out, those kids are scattered.”
The center is in desperate need of O Positive and A Positive blood donations. O Negative is the universal blood type that can be given to anyone and is the most used, so donors of O Negative blood are always welcome. Donors also can opt to donate platelets only, which is a separate process that a much larger amount of platelets than the average blood donation.
Each pint of donated blood is separated in three blood products – red blood cells, plasma and platelets. Each blood donation can potentially save three lives.
“Generally, each one of the components goes to a different person,” Rascon said. “Three different lives are impacted with your one one-hour donation. What else can you do in an hour and save three lives?”
Donors at the EMA blood drive will receive free food from Chick-fil-A and Firehouse Subs and Small Cakes and a T-shirt. First-time donors will also get a free Shepeard duffel bag. Tucker said the drive also will include a drawing for a two-person, 72-hour disaster supply kit.
Donors must be at least 17 years old, or 16 with parental consent, weigh at least 110 pounds and have photo identification.