Shepeard Community Blood Center's shelves are nearly empty.
The center needs help replenishing blood supplies that dropped dangerously low after the holiday season.
One area hospital likes to keep 100 pints of O-positive blood on its shelves, while the center's officials prefer to have another 230 units stored on their shelves, according to Nancy Szoncinski, the center's director of community resources. Shortages have left only 15 units at the hospital and less than 10 on the center's shelves, Szoncinski said.
The Columbia County Emergency Services Division is hosting its fifth semiannual blood drive to help refresh the dwindling winter supply. The drive, set for tomorrow, will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Evans Government Complex auditorium, Building A, at 630 Ronald Reagan Drive, Evans. Donors are provided a T-shirt and Mot's Pit Cooked Barbeque while supplies last.
Blood supplies are normally low in January and blood donated must be processed before it can be used, said Pam Tucker, the county's Emergency Services Division director.
Supplies drop in January because people are just too busy during the holidays to donate and hospitals that gear down on elective surgeries during the holidays get back to business after the new year begins.
"You go a couple of weeks without donations, and it hurts. The shelves get really low," Tucker said. "What scares me as an emergency management director is we don't ever want our supplies to be that depleted. If there is a disaster, blood is going to be critical. Yeah, people are going to line up that day, but because of the time it takes to process the blood, it is not going to be of immediate assistance."
Shepeard provides blood components to all local hospitals in Richmond, Columbia and Aiken counties and eight other surrounding Georgia and South Carolina counties, Szoncinski said.
It takes time to process blood, but one pint can be broken down into three or four components and used separately.
The 2002 drives resulted in more than 250 pints, and last year's drives gained 268 pint donations.
"If we get 100 units at the EMA drive, that is three to 400 patients whose lives are touched or saved by that one blood drive," Szoncinski said.
The public is welcome to donate, but donors must be at least 17-years-old, 110-pounds and in good general health.
Tucker hopes to keep the drive a success by asking those who donate blood regularly to donate again in addition to first-time givers.
"It doesn't hurt," Tucker said. "It is such an easy thing to do, and when you leave, you just really know you have contributed to saving somebody's life."
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