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Marsh Regional Blood Center: Give something that means something this holiday season

Katherine Scoggins • Dec 19, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion. Only 38 percent of the population is able to donate blood and, of those, only 5 to 10 percent give on a regular basis. They need more help, particularly at this time of year.

Nathan Catron of Gate City, Va., understands this need and, for the past decade, has gone “above and beyond” to help.

“I worked at Eastman and they had periodic blood drives - every employee was asked to give at least once every three years. When I retired, I just kept on donating, coming down to the Marsh Regional Blood Center.”

In all, Catron has donated 17 gallons of blood.

“One day, while I was donating blood, a Marsh employee told me about donating platelets.”

She explained to him how valuable platelets are to those suffering from cancer.

“Most of us know someone who is or has been affected by cancer. This is a simple way to do something important for them. I encourage everyone to start donating blood during this holiday season. You never know when you or a loved one might need it,” Catron said.

The holiday season, which includes the week of Thanksgiving through the second week of January, is a difficult time for Marsh.

Blood supplies are hit with a triple “whammy” as travel, business, hectic schedules and, often, inclement weather take their toll on not only blood donations, but also on inventories of blood. The shelf-life of blood is 42 days, which might sound like a long time, until you think about the number of car accidents you hear about this time of year - each having the potential of wiping out an entire supply of a blood type.

Always in demand - especially this time of year - is an adequate supply of blood type O negative, which is used in trauma cases. Blood donations are used to help accident victims, people undergoing surgical procedures, complications from childbirth, and those with various types of cancer, leukemia, aplastic anemia, and other platelet-suppressing diseases.

Marsh Regional Blood Center has been the largest local supplier of blood and blood products in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia for 65 years. Since establishing the region’s first independent blood bank in Kingsport, Tenn., in 1947, the mission of Marsh Regional has been to collect and maintain blood supplies to meet local needs.

Since those early days, the Marsh Regional Blood Center has expanded its mission through the help of four “bloodmobiles,” large buses that travel throughout the region collecting blood and blood products. Perhaps you have seen one of them parked in front of a church, business or school. This year alone, the bloodmobiles have held 800 mobile collections, covering an area from Hancock County, north to Buchanan County and east to Unicoi, serving almost every hospital and medical center in between.

To donate blood, an individual must weigh at least 110 pounds and be at least 17 years of age and in generally good health. Donors should eat a well-balanced meal before donating and drink fluids throughout the day. People with a cold, sore throat, fever, or fever blister may not donate. You must be antibiotic free for seven days prior to donating. There are some other situations that may preclude one from giving blood, so the best way to see if you qualify is to call the Marsh Regional Blood Center and talk to them.

Individuals who qualify can donate blood up to six times a year; if you donate platelets, you can donate up to 24 times a year. What blood type is most needed?

“The one that isn’t on the shelf,” explains Marsh’s Julia Davis.

For more information on donating or volunteering, call 423-408-7500 or visit the new Marsh Regional Blood Center at 111 W. Stone Drive, Suite 300, in Kingsport. Schedules of area blood drives may be found on the website marshblood.com and you can Like Marsh Regional on Facebook.

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