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Monday, Feb 14, 2022

Kingsport Mayor Pat Shull steps up to the plate to donate after FDA reverses blood donation ban affecting U.S. Veterans

Marsh Regional Blood Center will welcome Kingsport Mayor Pat Shull as a new blood donor after a change in Food and Drug Administration rules opened the door for him and millions of other U.S. Veterans to give blood for the first time in decades.

Two years ago, the FDA lifted a longstanding ban that affected 4.4 million Veterans, service members and civilians, barring them from donating blood for more than two decades. Shull, a retired colonel who was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Army, hasn’t donated blood in more than 25 years, but that’s about to change—Shull will roll up his sleeve for Marsh Regional’s blood drive at the Kingsport Times-News on Feb. 15.

“As a Veteran, I’ve always been really proud to serve my country, and I’ve continued my commitment to public service as Mayor of Kingsport,” Shull said. “I was thrilled to find out that I’m now able to extend my service to my community by giving the most precious gift of all—the gift of life.

“This is my first time donating since I was in the service, but it certainly won’t be my last. I’m always looking for the best ways to serve my community, and I’m honored that I’m now able to step up and save the lives of people in my community by donating blood.”

The longstanding ban was enacted in response to outbreaks of “mad cow disease,” a brain disease discovered in the United Kingdom in 1985. The disease affects adult cattle but can be passed on to humans through contaminated beef.

Some U.S. military bases received beef from potentially contaminated sources in the mid-1980s and ‘90s, so to prevent transmission of the disease, the FDA enacted a blood donation deferral that barred any service member or civilian who spent longer than six cumulative months on U.S. military bases in Europe from giving blood. Mayor Shull was one of the millions of Veterans unable to donate for decades because of his service in Europe at the time of the outbreak.

However, there have been no cases of mad cow disease associated with spending time on U.S. military bases in Europe, so the FDA reversed the ban in 2020, allowing millions of Veterans, service members and civilians to enter the donor pool and continue their acts of heroism through blood donation. “Giving blood is important now more than ever, and this lifesaving act is one of the most selfless ways you can give back to your community,” said Marsh Regional Director Steffanie Sukel. “The reversal of this ban means that those military heroes can step up and continue saving lives through blood donation, and we’re so thankful that Mayor Shull is stepping up to help us get the word out in our community.”

The blood drive will take place on Feb. 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Kingsport Times-News, 701 Lynn Garden Drive, Kingsport. Appointments for the drive can be made by calling 423-408-7500, and walk-ins will be accommodated as time allows.

To give blood, donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. People with a cold, sore throat, fever, flu or fever blisters or those taking antibiotics are not eligible to donate. Donors should eat a balanced meal before giving blood. Donors who have had a recent COVID-19 infection should wait until symptoms subside, or 10 days after a positive test for those without symptoms, to donate.

All donors must wear a face covering at all times in collection centers or in mobile units. Marsh Regional will have masks on hand for donors who do not bring their own.

One blood donation can save up to three lives, and donations collected by Marsh Regional are used within the Appalachian Highlands. Marsh Regional supplies blood to 25 medical facilities, all regional cancer centers and local rescue aircraft bases in the Appalachian Highlands. Donors may also visit one of Marsh Regional’s donation centers: 111 W. Stone Drive, Suite 300, Kingsport; 2428 Knob Creek Road, Johnson City; and 1996 W. State St., Bristol.

For more information about blood donation or to schedule a blood drive, please call 423-408-7500 or visit Marsh Regional's website.