By Johnny Jackson
McDonough resident, Jane Hudson, answered an urgent call to give where it is desperately needed. She donated blood platelets at the LifeSouth Community Blood Center in McDonough.
"At first, I was chicken, and I really didn't understand what it was," Hudson said.
Now, she donates whole blood on a regular basis at the center in hopes that her small gift may help save a life. And her donations are as important now as they have ever been, according to LifeSouth's Southern Crescent Regional Manager Jacqueline Smith.
With decreases in blood donations this summer, the area's blood banks are at critical levels.
"We currently are in emergency appeal," Smith said. "We need all blood types to donate. When we don't have enough blood on the shelves, surgeries have to be canceled. Every three seconds someone needs blood. So, donating saves lives."
One person can give a pint of blood every 56 days, she said. Each pint of blood can be separated into three different blood products, including blood platelets.
Donors can give at the Southern Crescent LifeSouth Community Blood Center, which relocated from Stockbridge to larger and more centralized facilities in McDonough. The new 4,200-square-foot facility, one of only three LifeSouth Blood Centers in Georgia, is located at 329 Westridge Parkway in McDonough and is a main blood supplier for Henry Medical Center in Stockbridge.
"We're in a larger facility and we can accommodate more donors," Smith said. "All you have to do is walk in - just show up."
She said the goal for the center is to obtain at least 20 blood donations a day, between the center's fixed donation site in McDonough and its mobile donation center, which makes year-round stops at various locations in the region, including schools, businesses, and churches.
LifeSouth's mobile donation center will be at Henry Medical Center in Stockbridge on Tuesday, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; at the WalMart Supercenter at Hudson Bridge Road in Stockbridge, from 2-7 p.m. on Wednesday; and at Harley Davidson of Clayton County in Morrow, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., on Aug. 9.
Red Cross partners with the Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons and the American Red Cross (ARC) Southern Blood Services Region are also partnering up to address the increasing need for blood donations. The organizations are campaigning to improve blood donations in the region.
Through Aug. 17, anyone who donates blood or platelets at an American Red Cross blood donor center will have a chance to win a Falcons helmet signed by Head Coach Mike Smith or two tickets to a pre-season home game.
"We're excited to partner with the American Red Cross to help emphasize the need for blood donations during what is traditionally a slow time of year," said Kendyl Moss, Atlanta Falcons Director of Community Relations. "We recognize the tremendous need, and are glad to be a resource to help in such a meaningful way."
Decreased blood donations during the summer make it difficult to supply local hospitals with the blood needed for patients. The Southern Region needs 1,200 blood donations each weekday in order to adequately supply more than 130 hospitals and HealthCare facilities, according to ARC officials. The goal, however, is seldom achieved, and blood must be brought in from other regions to routinely meet local needs.
Currently, supplies of type O and B blood are especially low, and donors with those blood types are urged to make a special effort to donate in August. The universal blood type, O negative, is used extensively in emergency rooms, since it can be safely given to all patients who need immediate transfusions.
Though school is beginning this week for many of the area's school districts, where donor centers get much of their blood donations, officials are insisting that people turnout to give blood.
"We ask that people really come out and donate," said Smith of LifeSouth.
Donation hours at local donor centers
The LifeSouth Blood Donor Center will be open on Wednesdays and Fridays, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.; and Saturdays, from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. Smith said arrangements can be made for after-hours appointments by calling (678) 432-0637.
The ARC will hold a series of Falcons blood drives at donor centers across metro Atlanta through Aug. 17. The ARC South Metro Donor Center, located at 675 Southcrest Pkwy, Suite 120, in Stockbridge, will host blood drives on Wednesday and Thursday, from Noon - 7 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.