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Friday, Nov 6, 2020

Marsh Regional Blood Center, Bristol Motor Speedway partner to host first-ever Holiday Blood Drive

Step aside, Santa!

Marsh Regional Blood Center and Bristol Motor Speedway are teaming up to supply the Appalachian Highlands with something better than stocking stuffers – life-saving blood and blood products.

The first-ever Holiday Blood Drive will be held at the Speedway’s South Entrance on Monday, Nov. 9, and Tuesday, Nov. 10, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. each day.

To help ensure physical distancing and infection prevention, Marsh Regional and Bristol Motor Speedway strongly encourage donors to make an appointment to give. Interested donors can call (423) 990-0004 or visit Marsh Regional Blood Center to make an appointment. Walk-ins will be accommodated as available, and all eligible blood donors in the Appalachian Highlands are invited to attend.

“The need for blood never takes a holiday – in fact, we need donations more than ever during this time of year,” said Steffanie Sukel, director of Marsh Regional. “Additionally, like nearly every blood center in the United States, Marsh Regional is experiencing a significant and potentially catastrophic drop in their normal blood donations, which puts us in danger of not being able to supply our communities with the blood, platelets and plasma they need.

“We encourage everyone who is able to please come out and give; if not at the Holiday Blood Drive, at a mobile blood drive in your community or at one of our blood centers. You never know whose life you could save – it could even be your own.”

Each donor will receive a complimentary Speedway in Lights voucher, snack and special holiday T-shirt that pays homage to A Christmas Story. 

“We hope many will consider giving the gift of blood this holiday season to help someone else in need,” said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway. “We’re thankful to the frontline workers at Ballad Health and Marsh Regional Blood Center for all they do to serve and protect our community, especially during these ever-changing times.

“We’re thrilled to be able to welcome their mobile units, and all of you, to Bristol Motor Speedway next week and encourage those who are healthy to join us and help make a difference.”

With a scalable capacity of up to 150,000 seats, Bristol Motor Speedway is uniquely positioned to accommodate physical distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Marsh Regional also continues to take appropriate actions to reduce donors’ potential exposure to COVID-19, and donors will receive directions on arrival to maintain proper distancing and infection prevention measures.

COVID-19 does not pose any known risk to blood donors during the donation process or from attending blood drives, and blood donation centers always take steps to prevent team members and donors who are not feeling well or who have a fever from reaching the donor area.

Additionally, donors are required to wear a cloth face covering, such as homemade mask, bandana or buff, at all times in collection centers or on mobile units. If donors do not bring their own face covering, Marsh Regional will provide one.

As many as three lives can be saved each time someone donates blood – and donations to Marsh Regional stay local to help people in the Appalachian Highlands. Marsh Regional supplies blood to 28 regional medical facilities, all regional cancer centers and five air rescue bases in Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky.

In addition to the Holiday Blood Drive, Marsh Regional will host blood drives across the Appalachian Highlands throughout November. Interested donors can visit the Marsh Blood Regional Center website to find a mobile drive near them.

“This is a selfless gesture that can be made even in the most challenging of times,” Sukel said. “But when people step forward and do what they can to help, our community becomes better, safer and healthier.”

In addition to blood donations, Marsh Regional is seeking people who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate convalescent plasma, which can contain antibodies that fight off active COVID-19 infections. The plasma shows promise as a treatment option for people with severe COVID-19 to boost their body’s ability to fight the virus. It might also help people who are moderately ill from developing critical symptoms and experiencing major and life-threatening complications.

Convalescent plasma will not be collected at the Holiday Blood Drive or any other mobile blood drives; however, interested donors can call (423) 408-7500 to learn more.

To give blood, donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health. People with a cold, sore throat, fever, flu or fever blisters or who are taking antibiotics may not donate. Donors should eat a balanced meal before giving blood.

Additionally, Marsh Regional has updated its donor eligibility guidelines to reflect new federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards. Donation deferrals have been modified for individuals who were previously unable to give due to time spent in certain European countries or on military bases in Europe. Potential donors should call (423) 408-7500 to be pre-screened for eligibility.

In addition to the Holiday Blood Drive and upcoming mobile blood drives, donors are welcome at Marsh Regional’s collection centers: 111 W. Stone Drive, Suite 300, Kingsport; 2428 Knob Creek Road, Johnson City; and 1996 W. State St., Bristol.

An appointment is required before giving blood at any blood center – donors should call (423) 408-7500, (423) 652-0014 or (423) 282-7090 or visit Marsh Regional Blood Center for more information about appointments or to schedule a blood drive at a local business, church, school or community organization. Same-day blood donation appointments are frequently available.