JACKSON — Everyday, LIFELINE Blood Services has a crucial goal to meet—one that literally means life or death for people here in West Tennessee. As the sole supplier of blood to 17 hospitals and 14 air ambulances across 20 counties, the blood bank needs a constant supply of donors to meet demand. While a committed donor can give many gallons over his or her lifetime, it is difficult to find new donors willing to give a blood donation.
LIFELINE Blood Services will be in downtown on the square in McKenzie across from The McKenzie Banner on April 20 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
“People who have never donated blood before give a variety of reasons,” said Caitlin Roach, Marketing Manager for LIFELINE. “Some do cite a fear of needles, but more often than that, I hear them saying that they simply haven’t ever thought about it or taken the time to try it.”
While various health issues can lead to both permanent and temporary deferrals for donating blood, statistics show that of those who are eligible, only around 5% donate each year. Donors can only give every eight weeks due to the time necessary to replace red cells in their bodies, so many donors are needed to keep West Tennessee supplied with blood.
“We respect that you might be intimidated at the thought of donating,” said Roach. “But we ask you to think about it a little differently. Take pride in the thought of doing something good—your single blood donation can save as many as three lives.”
One of the best things first-time donors can do to have a good experience is to be prepared. Read about the donation process and fill out your medical questionnaire online the day you donate. Drink plenty of water before you come in, and make sure to have eaten a hearty meal with iron-rich foods such as red meat, beans or spinach before donating.
“You never know when someone you love will need blood, or even when you may need it yourself,” said Roach. “You will want it to be there, though, when it’s needed, and that only happens from donors stepping up and providing our supply. Give blood donation a try—you’ll feel so rewarded.”
To learn more about LIFELINE Blood Services, call 731.427.4431 or visit lifelinebloodserv.org.
Things Everyone Should Know About Giving Blood
Who can donate blood?
Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and be at least 17 years old. There is no upper age limit to donating blood. You must also be feeling well and healthy at the time of your donation—you must wait three days after symptoms have resolved from a cold or fever before donating and fourteen days after a COVID-19 diagnosis.
Is filling out the medical questionnaire necessary every time I donate?
Yes, since this helps to ensure the safest possible blood supply. All donors must be asked all the screening questions at each donation. FDA regulations specifically require that all blood donors complete the donor history questionnaire on the day of donation and prior to donating.
Can I donate if I am taking medication?
Most medications do not prevent you from donating blood. Common medications—such as those used to control blood pressure, birth control pills and over-the-counter medications—do not affect your eligibility. If you are taking antibiotics, you must complete the course and wait seven days before donating. Call to ask about a specific medication before donating if you have questions.
Can I donate if I have recently had a vaccination?
Donation is acceptable after most vaccinations, including all current COVID-19 vaccines and the flu shot, as long as you are feeling well. Call to ask about a specific vaccine before donating if you have questions.
Can I donate blood if I am pregnant or have recently given birth?
You may not donate blood if you are pregnant. You may give blood 6 weeks after a vaginal delivery and 6 months after a C-section. You can donate blood while breastfeeding.
Can I donate blood if I have recently gotten a tattoo?
Yes! After your tattoo is healed, you may donate blood as long as it was done at a licensed facility.
Can I donate blood if I have been previously diagnosed with cancer?
Cancer is a permanent deferral, (excluding cervical cancer). However, after being cancer-free for five years, you can have your doctor fill out a form from the blood center and have your case evaluated by our medical director. You could be reinstated as a donor at that time.