By Johnny Jackson
Blood donations are drying up throughout the Southern Crescent, according to officials with regional blood centers.
"As usual, donations are down through the holiday season," said Adam Ward, a mobile team captain with LifeSouth Community Blood Centers.
He said LifeSouth's blood donations in the Southern Crescent region have declined by about 16 percent this holiday season, compared to last.
"We have had 444 donations from Thanksgiving to now," said Ward, on Tuesday. "Last year, during the same time frame, we had 529 donations."
The same picture exists for the American Red Cross. It has experienced steady declines in blood donations across the region, according to April Phillips, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region.
"Since Thanksgiving, more than 560 pints of blood have been donated in Clayton and Henry counties, which is about 23 percent less than we collected during the same time frame last year," said Phillips.
The Red Cross official urges residents to consider making blood donations, as the need for blood has persisted through this year's holiday season.
"Accident victims as well as patients with cancer, sickle cell disease, blood disorders and other illnesses depend on life-saving transfusions every day," added Phillips. "It's important to take the time to give the gift of life.
"Blood donation is the gift that gives all year long," she continued. "As the holidays draw to a close, we invite donors to celebrate the New Year and add giving blood to your list of resolutions this year."
Phillips noted the American Red Cross South Metro Blood Donation Center in Stockbridge will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., on both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
The South Metro Blood Donation Center -- located at 675 Southcrest Pkwy., in Stockbridge -- is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, between noon, and 7 p.m. The center is open, from 8 a.m., until 3 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays.
Phillips said the City of Riverdale Fire Department plans to host Clayton County's first American Red Cross Blood Drive of the new year, on Jan. 14, from 10 a.m., until 3 p.m., at department headquarters, 6690 Church St., in Riverdale.
In Henry County, the 'McDonough O Team' at McDonough Presbyterian Church plans to host a blood drive, from 2 p.m., to 7 p.m., on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 17. The church is located at 427 McGarity Road in McDonough.
Phillips said individual donors can help save up to three lives with each blood donation, which takes about one hour per donation. Most donors, she explained, "can donate up to six times a year, which means that at the end of the year just six hours of your time may have helped save the lives of as many as 18 people."
Those interested in donating blood, or platelets, to the Red Cross should call 1-800-RED CROSS, and visit www.redcrossblood.org, to learn more.
LifeSouth's Southern Crescent Donor Center, located at 329 Westridge Pkwy., in McDonough, is open daily for blood donations.
LifeSouth's Mobile Team Captain Adam Ward said the center plans to conduct an "end-of-the-year push" for blood donations, during a mobile blood drive, this Friday, at the Wal-Mart Super Center, 135 Willow Lane in McDonough. The drive will be held from 11 a.m., until 5 p.m.
"Our goal for this drive is 50 to 60 donations," Ward said. "All blood types are needed. [But] we are currently in emergency need for O-Negative Blood."
To find a nearby LifeSouth Mobile Blood Drive, visit www.lifesouth.org, and use the "find a blood drive" tool. Visit the web site for times of operation at the Southern Crescent Donor Center, or call (678) 432-0637.