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Friday, Jun 11, 2021

Marsh Regional celebrates blood donors with special World Blood Donor Day drive

Donors encouraged to give as blood supply remains at critical levels

In celebration of blood donor heroes around the world, Marsh Regional Blood Center is joining in a nationwide celebration of World Blood Donor Day to “give blood and keep the world beating.”

In keeping with that event, Marsh Regional Blood Center will hold a blood drive event to commemorate World Blood Donor Day on Monday, June 14. The special drives give Marsh Regional the opportunity to thank its regular donors – especially those who donated during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis – as well as encourage new donors to give.

Established by the World Health Organization, World Blood Donor Day is an annual recognition of the nation’s blood donors and the essential contribution that blood donors make. This year’s international event will be held in Rome, Italy, and comes during a nationwide blood shortage that threatens blood supplies both in the Appalachian Highlands and across the United States.

“Even though COVID-19 appears to be winding down in our communities, our need for blood is more crucial than it’s ever been,” said Steffanie Sukel, director of Marsh Regional. “If we’ve learned anything this past year, it’s the importance of community. Giving blood is the easiest way to make a large impact on your community, and all it costs is a little time.”

Marsh Regional’s blood and blood product have remained at critical levels for several months. While Marsh Regional’s goal is to keep a steady, three-day supply of blood, recent drops in donation have led to the organization’s struggle to keep a day’s supply on the shelves.

“We want to thank everyone who donated blood last year—there’s no question that lives were saved thanks to the selflessness of our donors,” Sukel said. “For Marsh Regional’s supplies to fully recover, we need everyone who is eligible to give blood to come out and donate.”

The World Blood Donor Day drives will be held 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. Each collection center will operate with extended hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. that day.

All donors who give during the World Blood Donor Day event will receive a special-edition T-shirt and a snack, and donors will receive a free lunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

While walk-ins will be accommodated, they might experience a longer wait time to give. Appointments are preferred for the World Blood Donor Day drive and can be made by calling 423-408-7500 for the Kingsport center, 423-652-0014 for the Bristol center or 423-282-7090 for the Johnson City center.

Sukel also said it’s never too late to become a first-time donor, and she encouraged newcomers to participate in this worthwhile activity.

“The event is meant to recognize those folks who give the gift of life and help save lives locally here at the hospitals we serve,” Sukel said. “We invite people who’ve donated last year, donated this year or might be thinking about donating at some point to come out and be the hero we need.”

The region’s crucial need for blood supply is reflected in a nationwide blood shortage. A lag in donations with an increasing demand for blood leaves national inventories alarmingly depleted.

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 mobile units. Donors may be asked to wait outside the unit as units abide by a capacity limit to promote social distancing.

As many as three lives can be saved with one blood donation – and blood donations received through Marsh Regional stay in the Appalachian Highlands to help local patients. Marsh Regional supplies blood to 28 regional medical facilities, all regional cancer centers and five air rescue bases in Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky.

Marsh Regional’s blood supply remains at critical levels for all blood types, driving an urgent need for blood and blood product donations in the Appalachian Highlands. Products such as platelets and convalescent plasma aren’t collected on mobile units, but donors can make an appointment at any Marsh Regional blood donation center at a later date.

“Like almost every blood center in the country, Marsh Regional is struggling with a potentially catastrophic drop in normal blood donations,” Sukel said. “Our mission is to adequately supply our communities with the blood, platelets and plasma they need, but we really need donors to help us do that.

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 who are taking antibiotics are not eligible to donate. Donors should eat a well-balanced meal before giving blood.

Those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine should wait at least 48 hours after each dose before making a blood, platelet or plasma donation, and those who are recovering from COVID-19 should wait at least two weeks after COVID-19 symptoms resolve before donating.

For those who are unable to come to the World Blood Donor Day drive, Marsh Regional accepts appointments at any of its three locations in Bristol, Kingsport and Johnson City. Appointments can be made by calling 423-408-7500, 423-652-0014 or 423-282-7090. Same-day blood donation appointments are frequently available. 

Learn more about Marsh Regional and blood donation.