MARIETTA — With holiday spirit still infusing the last weekend of the year, residents are encouraged to include an American Red Cross blood drive in their plans.
Kristen Stancil, spokeswoman for the nonprofit’s Southern Blood Services Region, which includes Cobb County, said the need for donations is all-inclusive.
“In particular — we’re always looking for all blood types, but especially Type O donors,” she said. “Type O is the universal blood type. It can be used for any patients, no matter what their blood type is, in an emergency.”
Not only are types A, B and O welcomed at blood drives like this weekend’s events in Acworth, Kennesaw and Marietta, but platelet donors are also needed.
“Platelets are the clotting factor in the blood,” Stancil said. “Platelets have a different process, but they can be used to help cancer patients, who have a weakened immune system.”
Donors may contribute platelets every two weeks, while they must wait 56 or more days between donating whole blood units, she said.
Other restrictions and considerations apply, Stancil added, such as being in good health and a minimum age of 17.
“You can be 16 with parental consent,” she said.
There is no upper age limit, Stancil said.
The process takes about an hour, including a pre-donation screening session.
“Once you come in, we’ll do a mini-history,” Stancil said. “We test for iron content and ask about where you’ve traveled.”
New Year’s Eve is a great time to help out a cause that often gets put on the back burner this time of year, she said.
“During the holidays, people think about giving blood a little less,” Stancil said. “People get busy with shopping and spending time with family and friends, so they’re not making appointments like they do during the rest of the year.”
While appointments can help busy donors manage their time, walk-ins are also welcomed, she said.
The region provides blood to patients in more than 120 hospitals, according to Randy Edwards, the region’s CEO.
About 1,200 donors need to give blood or platelets each weekday to meet hospital demands.
“Donating blood is an opportunity for people to give the most important gift of all, the ‘Gift of Life,’” he said in a statement. “The Red Cross depends on the generosity of our donors to be able to meet the needs of patients in our area and across the country.”
A single donation can impact three different lives, like that of Brody Cole, whose mother, Kristi Cole, held a blood drive in his honor Friday at First Baptist Church of Powder Springs.
“My youngest son Brody was born with a genetic disorder called mitochondrial disease. He passed away at the age of 7 years but not before receiving 100-plus blood transfusions,” she said. “Brody was transfusion-dependent and also received blood and blood products when sick, such as platelets and plasma.”
Brody, who would have been 11 years old today, celebrated his sixth birthday at Kristi Cole’s first blood drive.
“I became a blood drive sponsor after speaking at a Red Cross sponsor’s luncheon in 2007,” Cole said. “During lunch, I had the opportunity to sit with a gentleman who was being honored that day for donating blood since 1951. He was one pint short of 15 gallons.”
The number rang a bell with Cole.
“It occurred to me that my child had used all the blood this gentleman had donated since 1951, so I held my first blood drive in honor of Brody that December,” she said. “I wanted to give back to all the donors who had bought me time with my precious son.”
For more information, contact the Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS 1 (800) 733-2767.
BLOOD DRIVES SCHEDULED IN COBBWhere: Cobb Donation Center, E. Lake Shopping Center, 2145 Roswell Road, Marietta, 30062
When: Saturday, Sunday and Monday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Town Center at Cobb, 400 Barrett Parkway, Kennesaw, 30144
When: Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., Monday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Walmart Supercenter, 3826 Cobb Parkway North, Acworth, 30101
When: Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.
Where: Kennesaw United Methodist Church, 1801 Ben King Road, Kennesaw, 30144
When: Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Atlanta Freethought Society Hall, 4775 N. Church Lane, Smyrna, 30080
When: Tuesday, noon to 4 p.m.