Marsh Regional Blood Center, First Bank & Trust partner to hold blood drives in memory of Sen. Ben Chafin
Two months after Sen. Ben Chafin became one of more than 1,800 casualties of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Appalachian Highlands, his family, Marsh Regional Blood Center and First Bank & Trust Company are teaming up to save lives in his memory.
The Senator Chafin Memorial Blood Drives will be held from March 2-5 from 9 am — 5 pm each day at First Bank & Trust Company locations across the region.
“Ben believed in all the people of Southwest Virginia, and his O-negative blood helped serve everyone,” said Lora Carr Chafin, Sen. Chafin’s wife. “We encourage all to give to help our neighbors.”
Drives will be held:
- Tuesday, March 2 – 359 W. Main St., Lebanon, Virginia
- Wednesday, March 3 – 38 E. Valley Drive, Bristol, Virginia
- Thursday, March 4 – 1185 N. State of Franklin Road, Johnson City
- Friday, March 5 – 667 W. Main St., Abingdon, Virginia
- Friday, March 5 – 18528 Lee Highway, Abingdon, Virginia
Each donor will receive a snack and a commemorative T-shirt.
“Giving blood has the opportunity to save a life. Give this gracious gift to someone, somewhere, and know you will get personal satisfaction by sparing 15 minutes of your time to be a hero to someone,” said Mark Nelson, CEO of First Bank and Trust Company. “I will be honoring my friend and colleague Augustus Benton Chafin Jr. on March 5 in Abingdon, Virginia, when I donate.”
Sen. Chafin was first elected to the Virginia Senate in 2014, after representing the 4th District in the Commonwealth’s House of Delegates. A native of Russell County, Sen. Chafin practiced law throughout Southwest Virginia and was also the owner and operator of a beef cattle farm in Moccasin Valley. He was also a board member for First Bank and Trust Company, and he was a passionate and lifelong advocate for the needs of Southwest Virginia, from supporting jobs and education to fighting against the opioid epidemic.
“The entire Ballad Health family was heartbroken to learn Sen. Chafin passed away from COVID-19 complications,” said Ballad Health Chairman and CEO Alan Levine. “Sen. Chafin was a kind and good man, and he was beloved in the Virginia Senate. He truly cared about people and had a kind way about how he advocated for the people he was entrusted to serve.
“There is no better way to honor his memory than by doing something that benefits everyone in the Appalachian Highlands – such as donating blood. Sen. Chafin’s memory will live on not only in the lives of the people he served in Southwest Virginia, but also by the countless people who will be helped and healed through these blood drives.”
Levine also emphasized that, with O-negative blood, Sen. Chafin was a universal blood donor, meaning his blood, platelets and plasma could have been used for any patient. Marsh Regional has a consistent and ongoing need for O-negative blood, given its lifesaving usefulness in critical situations such as major traumas or shortages of specific blood types.
“My father had O-negative blood and was a consistent donor,” said Sophie Chafin Vance, Sen. Chafin’s daughter. “Our family hopes to carry on his legacy by donating, and we hope many others will join us.”
Appointments are not required for Sen. Chafin’s memorial blood drives, but they are preferred – interested donors can call 423-652-0014 or visit Marsh Regional on Facebook to learn more. Walk-in donors will be accommodated as able.
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 memorial drives for Sen. Chafin, Marsh Regional will host blood drives across the Appalachian Highlands throughout March. Interested donors can visit Marsh Regional to find a mobile drive near them.
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 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
- 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.