On Sunday, Sept. 11, in honor of the tenth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, LifeSouth Community Blood Center is sponsoring a 9/11 memorial blood drive called “Commemorate the Heroes of 9/11/01: Donate Blood.”
Unlike other metro Atlanta blood centers, Dunwoody’s LifeSouth Community Blood Center will be open on Sunday, Sept. 11, all day, to receive blood donations from people who want to make a difference.
Besides for remembering the heroes and victims of 9/11, this drive is especially important because the need for blood always spikes after Labor Day, due to the large number of traffic and boating accidents. To make matters more urgent, donations from high school and college students, traditionally the biggest donors, go down at the beginning of every school year.
Even without Labor Day, the need in metro Atlanta stays very high because of all the hospitals located here. Approximately one in seven people entering a hospital needs whole blood, which an individual can donate only once every two months. Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy have an ongoing need for blood platelets, which can be donated more frequently.
Luckily, recent FDA regulations allow more people than ever to donate blood. Anyone 17 years of age and older and weighing at least 110 pounds can donate. With parental permission, 16-year-olds can donate too. There is no upper age limit.
“We’ve even had donors in their 80s and 90s,” said Michael Becker, LifeSouth Community Development Coordinator. “And we have one young lady who donates platelets every two weeks.”
Nevertheless, the need is officially “critical.” LifeSouth accepts all blood types. Especially valuable is O-negative, which is the universal donor – in other words, receivable by everyone. However, only seven percent of Americans are O-negative, thus making it relatively rare.
Few conditions besides the obvious, such as blood diseases, prevent donation. Low blood iron is one, and it is a persistent problem for young people.
“They don’t realize that eating a lot of fast food reduces their blood iron,” said Becker. “Before we do a high school drive, we always use a lot of posters to promote healthier eating.”
Another rather strange reason a donor will be rejected is tattoos.
“Tattoos can hold you up,” said Becker. “The inks used in Georgia come from China. So, if you’ve just been tattooed in Georgia, you have to wait a year before donating blood.”
The same used to be true for body piercings, but the FDA has just liberalized its regulations to allow donations from people even with new piercings.
Donating blood requires little preparation other than a good breakfast. LifeSouth provides healthful snacks to donors later in the day. Donating a pint of blood, the maximum accepted, takes only 20 to 30 minutes.
Donating blood is basically a local matter. Blood donated in Dunwoody stays in metro Atlanta and is shared elsewhere only if local needs are met. LifeSouth encourages all who are able to give to ensure that a sufficient supply is available should their loved ones or friends need it.
The LifeSouth 9/11 memorial blood drive will occur all day on Sunday, Sept. 11, 8 am-4 pm, at 4891 Ashford Dunwoody Road. Everyone who donates will receive a memorial T-shirt. For information, call 404-329-1994.