Consider donating blood this month

Matthew Lane • Jan 10, 2018 at 12:37 PM

KINGSPORT — January is National Blood Donor Month. In case you’ve never donated before, now might be the time for you to consider giving to the Marsh Regional Blood Center.

Marsh has been the largest hometown supplier of blood and blood products in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia for 70 years, serving 17 medical facilities, four cancer centers and four air rescue aircraft.

To meet the need of 100 units of blood per day, Marsh holds 650 mobile blood drives at local high schools, businesses and colleges every year.

Amount collected

Don Campbell, the director of Marsh, said the center collected almost 30,000 units of blood and 2,500 units of platelets last year. Campbell attributes that number to the many loyal donors of our region.

“It was a good year,” Campbell said. “We continue to grow and we’re probably one of the top three largest hospital-based blood centers in the nation and one of the only ones that’s self-sufficient.”

Campbell added that Marsh doesn’t need help outside the region meeting the blood and platelet needs of the community.

“We’ve just got great donors,” he said.

High school donors

Marsh holds blood drives at 45 high schools in our region every year, teaching young adults the importance of donating blood and platelets, while at the same time rewarding them for their generosity.

Students who donate can participate in a scholarship program with a chance to win $1,000, and if they donate three times a year, they get to wear a red cord on their cap on graduation day, Campbell said.

Last year, Marsh gave away $22,000 in scholarships and grants and more than 1,800 red cords to seniors.

“High schools are one of our major locations, and we’ve done a really good job of growing that over the past couple of years,” Campbell said.

How you can donate

If you wish to donate, all you have to be is 17 years old, weigh 110 pounds and feel healthy and well on the day of donating. First-time donors have to pass a mini physical and fill out a questionnaire, but then the process is easy, taking 45 minutes to an hour to complete.

No appointment is necessary. Just go to Marsh’s website or Facebook page for the daily location of the donor truck and drop by.

Whole blood can be donated six times a year or every 56 days. Platelets can be donated 23 times a year or every seven to 10 days. Blood has a shelf life of 42 days; platelets only three days.

“We have a good, solid inventory because of the fabulous people who come and spend time giving us the gift of life, and the patients in hospitals we serve appreciate that,” Campbell said.