If there's a nearby blood drive, Richard Garcia said, he'll be there.
Whenever the Columbia County Emergency Management Agency holds its semiannual blood drive, the county procurement warehouse manager makes plans to attend and donate a pint.
"It's the need for blood," Garcia said of why he donates regularly. "I kind of feel if they are willing to come out this way, the least I can do is give blood ... I just want to help out.''
Garcia said he's ready to donate at the Columbia County EMA Winter Blood Drive to benefit Shepeard Community Blood Center. The drive is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Evans Government Center Auditorium.
Pam Tucker, the county's Emergency Services Division director, said there are a lot of county employees and residents who show up to donate. The drives have been held since 1999.
"Every six months, you know who all is going to come," Tucker said. "It's just a very dedicated group of people."
Dedicated blood donors are required to keep Shepeard's blood supplies up in times such as the winter and summer, when supplies tend to fall because of fewer donors and higher need.
Nearly 100 donors went to the 2005 winter blood drive, and 134 donated during the summer drive in July, Tucker said.
"It really worries me that supplies get so low in the summer and in the winter," Tucker said.
Brandie Reese, Shepeard's Georgia Community Relations coordinator, said blood supplies dip during holiday seasons because of irregular schedules and vacations. She said the center is desperately low on supplies of O positive, O negative, B positive and B negative blood types. The center provides blood products to 15 hospitals in 11 counties.
According to Shepeard, on average, an auto wreck can cause the need for 50 units of blood, while a bone marrow transplant requires 120 units of blood and a burn victim needs 20 units of platelets.
"Recently we've had a number of burn victims admitted into our local hospitals," Reese said.
"Doctors Hospital has the largest burn center in the Southeast and burn victims use a hefty amount of blood products. They need red blood cells, plasma and platelets. There's only one place you can get blood and that's from each other. There's no substitute for blood," she said.
Each unit of donated blood can save up to three lives because the donation can be split into red blood cells, platelets and plasma. Tucker said that during the blood drive, donors have given 1,063 units of blood, which translates to 3,189 lives saved.
Tucker said she hopes to see 100 or 125 donors at the drive.
"It would be great if we could get 150," Tucker said. "I like to aim high."
Tucker said each donor will receive a free T-shirt, a coupon for a 12-ounce package of Christopher Bean Coffee and lunch from Chick-fil-A. Donors also will receive a free cholesterol screening.
For people who can't donate Thursday or can't get to the Government Complex, Tucker said, Shepeard's Bloodmobile will be stationed at the county Roads and Bridges office at 2257 County Camp Road, near Appling, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday.
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