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Marsh Regional Blood Center, Bristol Motor Speedway partner for Marsh Madness blood drive

Monday, March 8, 2021

Marsh Regional Blood Center, Bristol Motor Speedway partner for Marsh Madness blood drive

Drive-thru novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations aren’t the only lifesaving activity taking place at Bristol Motor Speedway – on Tuesday, March 9, the track will once again partner with Marsh Regional Blood Center for a special Marsh Madness blood drive.

The drive will be held indoors at the South Entrance from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., and donors are advised to access the Speedway through an alternate entrance, due to potential traffic congestion caused by the Sullivan County COVID-19 vaccination clinics at the Dragway.

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.

“As we continue wrangling with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a serious, sustained need for blood donors,” said Steffanie Sukel, director of Marsh Regional. “We encourage everyone who is able to please come out and give; if not at our Bristol Motor Speedway Drive, then 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 snack and a special-edition T-shirt. Each donor will be entered to win a $150 Walmart gift card.

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 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.

Sukel and Marsh Regional are also expressing a significant need for platelet donations, which are commonly used in cancer patients and patients receiving chemotherapy. While donors won’t be able to donate platelets during the Bristol Motor Speedway blood drive, they will be able to opt for a test to see if they qualify for platelet donation at a later date.

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 blood drive at Bristol Motor Speedway, Marsh Regional will host blood drives across the Appalachian Highlands throughout the spring. Interested donors can visit Marsh Regional Blood Center to find a mobile drive near them.

“An hour spent donating can make a world of difference to somebody else,” Sukel said. “It’s one action that could end up saving someone’s life.”

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.

Those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine are advised to wait at least 48 hours before making a blood, platelet or plasma donation.

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 blood drive at the Speedway 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.

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