Blood needed

Red Cross says sum­mer months al­ways bring shortage.

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - SAN­DRA BRANDS sbrands@cov­

The truth is blood can­not be man­u­fac­tured.

Ac­cord­ing to Kristin Stancil, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Man­ager of the Red Cross in Ge­or­gia, “It can only come from the gen­eros­ity of vol­un­teers.”

And dur­ing the sum­mer months, the need for blood do­na­tions rises sig­nif­i­cantly. “We gen­er­ally see a de­cline from sea­sonal ac­tiv­ity as well as travel that prevent reg­u­lar donors from be­ing able to give.”

The de­cline in blood do­na­tions dur­ing the sum­mer can also be at­trib­uted to school be­ing out, she said. “High schools and col­leges make up more than 20 per­cent of our do­na­tions dur­ing the aca­demic year.”

Bax­ter Bouch­illon, a lo­cal in­sur­ance agent and county res­i­dent, has been re­li­giously do­nat­ing his A-pos­i­tive blood to the Red Cross pretty much since high school.

“I had a teacher who gave ex­tra credit for do­nat­ing blood,” he said.

He con­tin­ued to donate un­til he left for col­lege. He didn’t donate while he fin­ished his de­gree and then trav­eled for State Farm In­sur­ance. Fif­teen years ago, when he re­turned to Cov­ing­ton to raise a fam­ily, Bouch­illon started do­nat­ing blood again.

He’s been pretty con­sis­tent with it, too, do­nat­ing as of­ten as he’s el­i­gi­ble, about eight weeks or 56 days. Since high school, he said, he’s prob­a­bly given about 37 units of blood. That’s over four gal­lons he’s do­nated.

He’s been such an in­spi­ra­tion to his twin daugh­ters, Liane and Tory, the 14-yearolds are ea­ger to donate. They need to be 16 be­fore the Red Cross will al­low them to donate, and then, only with parental con­sent.

When the Red Cross con­tacted First Pres­by­te­rian Church in Cov­ing­ton about the pos­si­bil­i­ties of hold­ing a blood drive there, Bouch­illon, an Elder in the church, co­or­di­nated it.

“The blood drives started last year, and there have been four since,” he said. “The most re­cent was May 31. The next will be Aug. 3 from 2 to 7 pm.”

For those who have been un­able to donate blood, Bouch­illon said, they can give plasma. It takes a bit longer than a blood do­na­tion be­cause the blood is cy­cled out of one arm, fil­tered and the red blood cells are put back in,” he said. “Plasma is ex­tremely ver­sa­tile, so even if you can’t give whole blood, you can give plasma.”

For those tak­ing medicines or pre­scrip­tions, in­for­ma­tion about what’s al­lowed is avail­able at the Red Cross web site,­cross­, or by call­ing 1-800-REDCROSS (733-2767).

“Don’t as­sume any­thing,” he said. “Talk about it to a Red Cross vol­un­teer. The worst they can do is say ‘no’.”

Bouch­illon said he do­nates be­cause “it’s a sim­ple way to help peo­ple in need when they need it. It’s just a good feel­ing to give some­one you don’t know blood. It doesn’t take a lot of time.

“In the time it takes to get a hair­cut, I can give blood,” he said. “Even one donor can help up to three lives.” 1,200 donors needed daily “We need ap­prox­i­mately 1,200 peo­ple to donate blood or platelets ev­ery sin­gle week­day," Stancil said. “The South­ern Re­gion ser­vices more than 120 hos­pi­tals in the re­gion, in­clud­ing Piedmont's five hos­pi­tals, mak­ing the need for blood con­stant.

“That’s why you hear from us so of­ten, be­cause we want to make sure we can pro­vide blood to our hos­pi­tals so pa­tients have it when they need it," she ex­plains.

The Amer­i­can Red Cross has is­sued an emer­gency call for blood and platelets, urg­ing all el­i­gi­ble donors to give now to re­plen­ish an ex­tremely low sum­mer blood sup­ply.

Blood do­na­tions have fallen short of hos­pi­tal needs for the past few months, re­sult­ing in about 39,000 fewer do­na­tions than what’s needed, as well as a sig­nif­i­cant draw down of the over­all Red Cross blood sup­ply. In ad­di­tion, the In­de­pen­dence Day hol­i­day may have caused many reg­u­lar donors to post­pone do­na­tions due to va­ca­tion plans. A re­cent Red Cross poll re­vealed that more than 75 per­cent of donors sur­veyed in­di­cated va­ca­tion plans this sum­mer, many of them oc­cur­ring the weeks be­fore and af­ter July 4.

“Right now, blood prod­ucts are be­ing dis­trib­uted to hos­pi­tals faster than do­na­tions are com­ing in, which is why we are mak­ing this emer­gency re­quest for do­na­tions,” said Mario Sed­lock, di­rec­tor of donor re­cruit­ment, South­ern Blood Ser- vices Re­gion. “Do­na­tions are ur­gently needed now to meet the needs of hos­pi­tal pa­tients in the com­ing days and weeks. If you’ve thought about giv­ing blood and help­ing to save lives, now is the time to do it. It’s the blood do­na­tions on the shelves that help save lives when an emer­gency oc­curs.”

Ac­cord­ing to Stancil, there’s a need for all blood types, but es­pe­cially O donors. “If you’re type O neg­a­tive, we def­i­nitely en­cour­age you to make an ap­point­ment as soon as you’re able to donate.”

Type O is the univer­sal blood type and can be used for any pa­tient dur­ing an emer­gency.

Metro Cre­ative Con­nec­tion

The need for blood is al­ways higher in the sum­mer. The Red Cross has sev­eral blood do­na­tion cen­ters set up through­out July and Au­gust.

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