With the health crisis that is occurring worldwide, blood donation is more important now than it has ever been. Every single day, blood donations save lives across the globe and help nurse people back to health who would have otherwise suffered. LifeSouth is a community-based blood supplier in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia with a Jacksonville branch that partners with local hospitals.
On Oct. 1-2, LifeSouth partnered with Baptist Beaches to host a community blood drive. Donors climbed aboard one of LifeSouth’s mobile donation buses to perform a simple act that will save many lives.
“LifeSouth supplies blood to Baptist, Wolfson Children’s Hospital, Memorial Hospital, and more,” said Karen Patterson, community development coordinator at LifeSouth. “At the blood drive, we saw 20 donors each day. A single blood donation can help up to three people, so between the two days of the blood drive we were able to save up to 120 local lives.”
The wonderful thing about donating blood is that almost anyone can do it. As long as donors are at least 16 years of age, weigh at least 110 lbs., and are in good health, they are candidates for blood donation. Donors who are currently positive for COVID-19 or who are experiencing symptoms of the virus are not eligible donors, but as soon as they recover, they become eligible again.
“If anyone out there has recovered from COVID-19, they are able to donate blood. We are actually looking for donors who have recovered because they have antibodies in their blood,” Patterson explained, stating that these antibodies may be extremely helpful for actively infected COVID-19 patients. LifeSouth is currently offering a SARS-CoV-2 antibody test with each donation, along with a $10 Visa gift card as a thank you do donors.
Along with donors who possess COVID-19 antibodies, LifeSouth is always looking for donors with Type O blood. Although all blood types are welcome, Type O donors are unique in that their blood can be given to patients of not only Type O-positive blood, but of several other types as well. According to the Red Cross, over 80% of human beings have blood types that are compatible with O-postive blood.
Although the drive has ended, LifeSouth is still looking for donors. It has a donation center in Jacksonville that is open five days per week, and has a few upcoming blood drives in the Beaches area. One will be held at the South Beach Parkway Publix on Monday Oct. 19, and another will take place on Saturday, Oct. 31 at the Marsh Landing Turner Ace Hardware. For more information, go to www.lifesouth.org.
“The entire blood donation process is only about an hour from start to finish, including a physical exam and the donation time itself,” said Patterson, who added that it takes only 60 minutes to save a life.