Providers seek participants during National Blood Donor Month

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Carrying on the legacy of her late father, Courtney Meckley is continuing to support the American Red Cross’ blood collection efforts. Along with serving as the coordinator for First Presbyterian Church of Cartersville’s blood drives, the 31-year-old recorded her 30th blood donation Wednesday.

“I became involved with the American Red Cross as a way to pay tribute to my father,” Meckley said. “My dad, Tom Farnon, served as president of the Red Cross in Bartow County before his death in 2003. He was passionate about the cause and gave blood every time he was eligible. My mother, Kathy Farnon, even jokes that, when he was president of the organization, he used to get ‘emergency’ calls if the blood drives ran out of Nutter Butters and needed him to restock so that donors did not revolt.“I began donating in 2009 when I became deacon at the church. In the past, First Presbyterian had always hosted two blood drives each year, but I knew that the need for blood was crucial. As a deacon on the mission and witness committee, I began coordinating blood drives every other month, giving the church a total of six drives per year. We chose to hold the blood drives on Wednesday evenings to allow people who attend our Wednesday night activities to donate blood while they were already at the church. I believe it is the only evening drive in Bartow County, so it allows residents who cannot give during the day to come after work and donate blood.”She continued, “... Not only has coordinating blood drives been very rewarding for me in many other ways, it also earned me my husband. I met my husband at a blood drive back in 2011; he was the supervisor working for the Red Cross and I was coordinating the blood drive. The rest is history.”First Presbyterian Church’s remaining Red Cross blood drives in 2016 will be held March 9, May 11, July 13, Sept. 14 and Nov. 9. On average, 35 donors attend each offering.“Bartow County has a strong base of blood donors,” Meckley said. “Jenny Reedy [northwest Georgia account manager] with the Red Cross organizes three [to] five blood drives per month in the county, on average. Personally, I do not love blood. I get lightheaded at the sight of it and, therefore, try to keep as far away as possible. This does not change the fact that I give blood every time I am able.“Folks do not think about the fact that they may one day be in the position of needing a blood donation. The blood banks need consistent donors to keep them stocked for those needs,” she said. “The Red Cross employees are very good about reassuring new donors and understanding fears. If you cannot donate due to health reasons, I am always in need of volunteers to help with blood drives. Helping donors check in before they donate and also ensuring that they recover at the canteen afterwards is an easy yet crucial volunteer position. Volunteers are critical to making sure that the blood [drives] run smoothly and efficiently.”With National Blood Donor Month in full swing, the American Red Cross and Blood Assurance are urging people to donate blood when possible. As displayed by First Presbyterian Church’s drop in donations — 19 units were obtained — Wednesday, January is traditionally a challenging month for blood collections.“National Blood Donor Month has been observed in January since 1970 with the goal of increasing blood and platelet donations during winter — one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs,” said Kristen Stancil, external communications manager for American Red Cross. “Severe winter weather may result in canceled blood drives, and seasonal illnesses, like the flu, may cause donors to be temporarily unable to give.“Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood and it is needed for many different reasons. Accident and burn victims, heart surgery patients, organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease may all need blood. It’s the blood products on the shelves today that help save lives in an emergency.”Along with First Presbyterian Church’s offerings, interested individuals can locate other public blood drives in Bartow online by searching for a specific ZIP code at http://www.redcross.org/blood.“[Nationally], the American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donations to help prevent a shortage of blood products this January,” Stancil said. “Fewer blood donations over the holiday months have reduced the overall blood supply at the Red Cross by approximately 50,000 units, but it can be replenished when generous volunteers roll up a sleeve to give.“Blood and platelet donors of all blood types, especially those with types O, AB, B-negative and A-negative blood, are urged to make an appointment to donate by using the Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767),” Stancil said. “A shortage can be averted if at least two more donors — above what’s currently expected — come to donate at every Red Cross blood drive in January.”Describing Bartow’s donor base as “strong and growing,” Charlie Callari — vice president of marketing and donor recruitment for Blood Assurance — revealed the county’s 2014 and 2015 figures display a 6 percent increase in blood donors.“One donation can save three lives,” Callari said. “It takes less than 45 minutes for the entire donation process. All blood collected stays local and helps patients at the Cartersville Medical Center. Blood Assurance is the only blood and platelet provider for Cartersville Medical Center. Blood only lasts for 42 days. And platelets for five days. Donors are always needed.“Currently, Blood Assurance is at 2 1/2-days supply for all blood types except O negative. Blood Assurance is at a one-day supply for type O negative. Blood Assurance aims for a five-day supply at all times to supply our 75 hospital partners.”Eligible donors can contribute blood at Blood Assurance’s Cartersville location — 921 B Joe Frank Harris Parkway — Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and the second Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Generally, most individuals 17 and older — 16 with parental consent — who weigh at least 110 pounds, can donate blood every 56 days.For more information or to schedule a blood donation, visit http://www.bloodassurance.org.