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Mississippi Blood Donations Decrease, Follow National Trend

Mississippi Blood Services employee begins to prep a blood donor in Oxford, Miss., on October 22, 2014. Photo by Kendyl Noon
Mississippi Blood Services employee begins to prep a blood donor in Oxford, Miss., on October 22, 2014. Photo by Kendyl Noon

Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, and American Red Cross, Mississippi Blood Services and United Blood Services are a few of the many organizations seeking to collect more than 41,000 blood donations each day.
Jennifer Hudson, the Mississippi Blood Services Oxford Marketing Representative, says even one donor makes a difference.
“It’s important because every person that comes out here to donate saves at least three lives,” said Hudson. “Some people can do the double red cell donation and they will be able to save at least six lives, so every person that comes out here is somebody’s hero within a matter of about 30 to 45 minutes.”
Mississippi Blood Services has a hospital services department that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week all year to answer calls from hospitals in need of blood. The non-profit donation organization gives blood to 49 hospitals in Mississippi.
In addition to Mississippi Blood Services, United Blood Services supplies blood products to around 27 hospitals in  Northern Mississippi and Northwest Alabama, including Oxford’s Baptist Memorial Hospital.
Rhonda Weaver, the Senior Donor Recruiter for United Blood Services in Tupelo, says it is extremely important for hospitals to have blood at all times.
“It is important to donate blood because there is no substitution for blood,” said Weaver. “Patients receive blood every day at your local hospitals. It is blood on the shelf that saves lives. It takes up to 48 hours for the testing to be completed and if your loved one needed blood and we didn’t have it, the consequences could be deadly.”
Ole Miss students like Deirdre Hofman often take part in blood drives once they hear all the facts.
“It’s important to donate blood because every day people are in need of transfusions, and are in need of blood supply,” said Hofman, a junior at Ole Miss. “Accidents are happening every day and people don’t realize behind the scenes what’s going on and what’s needed, and most of the time it is blood.”
In fact, according to American Red Cross, only about 10 percent of Americans who are eligible to donate blood actually do. Recently, that’s caused problems for hospitals and patients. Data supplied to United Blood Services by Blood Centers of America showed a decrease in blood supply from frequent donors to hospitals between 2007 and 2012. The decrease is expected to continue for the near future.
Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 9.09.25 PM
Graphic by Kendyl Noon

“The number of donors has decreased over the years,” said Weaver. “The reason for most of this is the restrictions that FDA has set up for donors. These restrictions have made the blood supply safer for patients, so this is a good thing. Restrictions include travel to other countries, medicines and health history.”
Although the donated blood is safer for the patients, the changes mean more donors are now needed.  Murphy Turner, a 6th grade science teacher at Byhalia Middle School, knows too well how one accident can change a person’s life forever.
“When I was in high school I would donate blood to skip a few classes, I knew I was helping out, but it wasn’t until my first year at Itawamba Community College that the importance of donating hit too close to home,” said Turner. “My mother was admitted into the hospital, where she had to undergo an emergency surgery. When the surgery was done she contracted a rare disease that gave her a 2 percent chance to live. If it wasn’t for the units and units of blood she received, my mother wouldn’t be here today.”
Turner made a promise to donate blood as often as he can.
“I almost lost my momma and I wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone,” said Turner. “Blood saved her life, so if all I have to do is donate blood to give someone else that chance, then albeit I’m going to donate.”
People are eligible to donate blood every 56 days, and there are always opportunities to participate in many blood drives.
“We usually have anywhere between one and three blood drives going every day in the North Mississippi area,” said Hudson. “And throughout the state we have anywhere from 10 to 12 drives a day going at all times.”
For more information on donating blood in the Oxford, Miss. area visit www.msblood.com or www.unitedbloodservices.org.

Contributed by Kendyl Noon, Ole Miss journalism student.

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