LifeSouth: Donating blood should be part of to-do list ahead of hurricane

By Wesley LeBlanc wesley@opcfla.com
Posted 7/14/21

CLAY COUNTY – When you live in Florida, you know it’s time to add “donate blood” to your to-do list ahead of a hurricane.

Hurricanes can do a lot of damage, but they can also easily drain …

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LifeSouth: Donating blood should be part of to-do list ahead of hurricane

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – When you live in Florida, you know it’s time to add “donate blood” to your to-do list ahead of a hurricane.

Hurricanes can do a lot of damage, but they can also easily drain a blood bank’s supply. Add the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and summer months, a time when people are traditionally on vacation, and blood banks need donors more than ever. LifeSouth is an organization in Northeast Florida dedicated to making the process easy.

“Even though Hurricane Elsa has passed, I’m pretty sure there will be another hurricane coming our way so it’s very important for blood to be on the shelf before something happens,” Jacksonville LifeSouth community development coordinator Karen Patterson said. “We want people to think about donating blood while preparing for a hurricane. It needs to be added to the to-do list.”

Patterson said hurricanes and other natural disasters can often bring with it downed power lines, loss of power, road damage and more and all of that threatens LifeSouth’s ability to spread and give blood to hospitals that need it. She said that local blood donations tend to stay local although when one of the states LifeSouth is in – Florida, Georgia and Alabama – needs blood, a neighboring state might donate some of their blood.

When a hurricane is on the way, Patterson said LifeSouth can be found in Clay and Duval counties. She said the only days the BloodMobile aren’t out are Thanksgiving and Christmas, although she urges people not to wait until the day a natural disaster hits to donate. That’s because there’s a good chance the BloodMobile won’t be out in town because LifeSouth’s employees need to be home safe and the BloodMobile can’t travel over big bridges like the Buckman Bridge when winds surpass 40 mph.

Patterson said donating blood is as easy as answering some questions and sitting in a comfortable chair for about 10 to 15 minutes. Those 15 minutes of blood donation can save three lives, she said. And since LifeSouth tries to keep its blood local, there’s a good chance your blood could save the lives of three people in your community.

She said the BloodMobile can be found all over Northeast Florida and blood can be donated there or at on-the-ground LifeSouth centers in places like Jacksonville, Baptist Medical Center, and very soon, on Fleming Island, once LifeSouth’s newest center opens in a few weeks. You can visit lifesouth.org at any time to see the exact locations of donor centers and blood drives.

“We take very good care of our donors,” Patterson said. “We treat them like family. We don’t want our people to be nervous or worried.”

She said all that’s needed is a government-issued ID and a willingness to answer just a few questions that could get personal. She stressed that the questions are asked only in an effort to ensure the blood donation process is safe for donors and receivers. When someone donates blood with LifeSouth, they’ll receive a hemoglobin test, a mini-physical, a cholesterol screening and an electronic gift card.

“Donating blood is a lot like getting the COVID-19 vaccine in that it’s supporting the community,” Patterson said. “However, if you’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine or even just one shot of it, or if you haven’t received the vaccine, we welcome you into our centers and BloodMobiles.”

LifeSouth employees still wear masks and it encourages donors to wear masks as well. They can rest assured heavy sanitation and enhanced cleaning processes are in place, too.

“The need for blood is ongoing because it has a shelf life,” Patterson said, commenting on the wide blood shortage that’s resulted in about two days of blood being available at any given time at the moment. “Blood only lasts about 42 days and it’s not something that can be purchased so it has to be donated. A lot of people don’t realize that, I think.”

LifeSouth appreciates anyone who donates blood, but Patterson said it’s important because blood’s shelf life is only 42 days, donating blood once isn’t a catch-all. She said if everyone donated blood three to four times a year, the blood supply would reach a healthier level.

“I would like to say that we are always looking for partners in the community to support the local blood supply so if you’re working for a business, a church, a community group, a social group, or even a Homeowner’s Association, we’d love to work with you and save lives in Northeast Florida,” Patterson said. “We make it very easy to work with us and we never charge someone for the BloodMobile to come out to a location.”

 

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