Crossroads area residents are being asked to reach deep in their kind hearts and help save lives.

The gift of blood is needed like never before.

A national blood shortage is further stressing the nation’s fragile healthcare system. Vitalant, which services about 900 hospitals across 28 states, including 18 across the Mid-South, currently is experiencing a historic, two-year low blood supply.

Vitalant is the supplier to both Magnolia Regional Health Center in Corinth and Baptist Memorial Hospital-Booneville.

The fast-spreading omicron variant is the latest COVID-19 complication forcing additional community blood drives to cancel and lessening the number of healthy and available donors, according to Vitalant.

All eligible donors, especially those with the most transfused blood type O, which is currently at less than half of the desired four-day supply, are critically needed to make an appointment now to give in the days and weeks ahead. As a special thank you during January, National Blood Donor Month, all those who give with Vitalant any time this month will be entered into the $5,000 Big Game Giveaway to win one of four, $5,000 prepaid gift cards redeemable by email.

“It’s important for people to remember that they can give blood immediately after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine if you’re healthy and well,” said Vitalant Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ralph Vassallo. “To ensure patient care isn’t jeopardized, we need people to schedule an appointment today. Even if the appointment is several weeks from now, setting and keeping it will help replenish what’s needed for both routine treatments and emergencies.”

Blood donations at Vitalant fell short of the need by more than 4,500 donations in December and the trend has continued into January. In addition to the effects of the omicron variant, severe winter weather in parts of the U.S. has further impacted blood drives, resulting in uncollected donations, noted the blood supplier network.

“Now is the time when new blood donors, those that haven’t given in a while and regular donors are all needed to step up and help address this critical healthcare issue,” said Cliff Numark, Vitalant senior vice president. “Astonishingly, only about 3 percent of the population donates blood, but most people are eligible. If more people start donating, shortages could be prevented.”

This shortage is not unique to Vitalant. Associations representing all blood services organizations in the U.S. warned the nation’s blood supply is at a dangerously low level and this trend must reverse to prevent hospitals from having to postpone potential life-saving treatments.

To make an appointment or for more information, visit vitalant.org or call 877-25-VITAL. Donors must feel well on the day of their donation. Like the COVID-19 vaccine, there’s no waiting period to donate for those who receive a seasonal flu vaccine if all other eligibility requirements are met.

During the month of January, Vitalant has partnered with the National Civil Rights Museum and the Shelby County Commission. Thanks to a grant from the commissioners, for every blood donation in the month of January, $10 from the Shelby County Commission will be given to the NCRM to purchase a ticket to the museum for up to 1,000 local students who cannot otherwise afford it.

Vitalant is the nation’s largest independent, nonprofit blood services provider exclusively focused on providing lifesaving blood and comprehensive transfusion medicine services.

Every day, Vitalant needs to collect about 5,300 blood, platelet and plasma donations to help save lives.

(Baptist Memorial Hospital – Booneville will host a Blood Drive for Vitalant from 1-5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25 in the multi-purpose building. Contact Bree Cartwright at 662-554-9934 for an appointment or go to donors.vitalant.org and search for Blood Drive Code: BBMH. Magnolia Regional Health Center will have a Blood Drive for Vitalant from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 3 in the MRHC Conference Center.)

Editor

A 1981 University of Tennessee - Martin graduate, Mark Boehler has over 40 years of journalism experience. His wife Dawn is the love of his life and they share five grown children and 10 grandchildren. His passion is his work - writing and photography.

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