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Ridgeland blood drive helps Red Cross during critical need

  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times Gillisonville’s Rudy Smith donates blood during the American Red Cross blood drive at Ridgeland Baptist Church.

The community did its part last week to help the American Red Cross combat a critical blood shortage.

Ridgeland Baptist Church hosted a blood drive Thursday and had 42 appointments prior to its start at 1:30 p.m. Several walk-ins signed up as the five-hour blood drive began.

Tommy Rhodes, who helped organize the blood drive, said a couple of people from Savannah planned to make the 40-minute drive to Ridgeland to donate.

Overall, the drive saw 51 registered donors and collected 40 pints of blood.

“The Ridgeland community does a really great job,” said Carrie Friend, American Red Cross account manager.

The Red Cross said it’s facing a critical blood shortage and last week it issued an emergency call for eligible blood and platelet donors of all blood types to give.

Blood donations have fallen short of expectations for the past two months, the Red Cross said, resulting in about 61,000 fewer donations than needed, which has caused a “significant” drop in the Red Cross blood supply. The shortfall is the equivalent of not collecting any blood donations for more than four days.

A row of people patiently sat at Ridgeland Baptist Church ready to donate, including Ridgeland’s Susan Cope who said she’s given blood for at least 30 years.

Cope said being involved in blood drives is akin to a calling.

“It’s just a feeling I have that I need to do something to help someone and this is the easiest, fastest way that I know of to help someone,” Cope said. “If it’s going to save a life, if it’s going to help someone doing treatment — I can spend 15 minutes doing that. We are called to help people and this is something I can do.”

The blood donations could help millions of people. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 1.69 million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2017. Many will need blood during chemotherapy treatment.

Also, a victim of a car accident might need as much as 100 pints of blood.

“Really and truly, this is the easiest thing you can do to save a life,” Cope said.

An estimated 38 percent of the population is eligible to donate blood, but less than 10 percent of those eligible donate, the Red Cross said.

Clara Bostick of Pineland hadn’t donated blood until last year. On Thursday she was back for a second time and said anyone concerned about donating blood shouldn’t be worried.

“It’s a normal blood draw; it’s like if I was at the doctor’s office,” Bostick said. “You are just drawing blood, it’s nothing to be afraid of. Maybe you can help someone who is in need.”

Cope said she’s so relaxed during the blood drawing that she reads a book.

“Before you know it, it’s over,” Cope said.

Rudy Smith of Gillisonville has donated blood 17 times through the Red Cross since he retired from the military in 1978. He also donated during his 20 years in the Army.

“Why not?” Smith said. “If I’m helping somebody, then good. There’s no reason not to do it as far as I’m concerned.”

There’s a blood drive scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, July 14 at Hilton Head Honda in Bluffton and a blood drive in Sun City is set for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 18.

To schedule an appointment to donate, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

To sponsor a blood drive in the county, contact Friend at 912-433-4741.

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