Olive Branch blood drive

Stanley Copeland of Nesbit watches as Lifeblood’s Demetria Brown begins the blood collection process during Monday’s blood drive outside the Olive Branch City Hall. Officials say there’s an increased need for blood supplies during the holidays.

Bob Bakken|DTT

While most DeSoto County residents will be gathering around Thanksgiving Day tables on Thursday giving thanks for the bountiful blessings they have received in the past year, there will be those who will be lying in hospital beds, but also giving thanks for the “Gift of Life.”

Helping to fill that need for blood to hospitals in DeSoto County and all across the Mid-South is Memphis-based Lifeblood, a Blood Systems center that is the Mid-South’s only full-service and non-profit blood donation center.

As part of a special holiday push, Lifeblood held a “Thanks For Giving” bloodmobile drive Monday afternoon outside the City Hall building in Olive Branch.

A Lifeblood bus was set up for residents to come in and give blood to fulfill a need that is especially important to fill around the holiday season, according to Lifeblood’s Niyeshia Warmsley, who served as the supervisor for Monday’s visit to Olive Branch.

“We’re actually running low on a bit of all blood types, especially the donors with the negative blood types,” Warmsley said. “This is our second or third time having a community blood drive here at this location. We can usually expect to see anywhere from 10-12 donors at this location based on past history.”

As part of their donation, participants will get checks on their body temperature, pulse, blood pressure and cholesterol and iron levels. Donors to Lifeblood also get points through a Hero Rewards program that will lead toward special gifts, such as movie tickets, gift cards and ice cream.

In addition, those who take part in this week’s special push through Wednesday will receive a T-shirt and a $15 voucher from Holiday Deli and Ham Company.

Warmsley said donors should come well-fed and ready to give.

“We encourage all of the donors to definitely eat and be well-hydrated,” she noted. “Once they come in with their photo ID, the process normally takes anywhere from 25-35 minutes, depending on each donor. It’s a very simple process.”

Warmsley said that process includes a brief interview, gathering medical history and then the collecting begins, usually with the donor sitting back and reclining, while squeezing a rubber ball as the blood is obtained.

“We take the blood back to our lab and make sure all the testing is OK with it,” Warmsley said. “Normally it’s gone and off the shelves within 24-48 hours. We work very closely with the hospitals in our area to make sure that we have what they need for supplies when they need it.”

Shortages typically develop around the holidays when many donors that Lifeblood depends on are away from home.

“A lot of our donors mostly come from the community, high schools and different avenues,” said Warmsley. “During the holiday season, everybody is going on vacation, so they take off of work, school’s out, and the donations are low. We really need people to reach out to the community blood drives, as well as our centers.”

Lifeblood has five donor centers in the Mid-South area, including one in Southaven at 1055 Goodman Road East. Appointments are accepted by calling 901-271-1260 or 888-543-3256.

Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.

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