Flu season causes blood shortage

Published 5:17 pm Wednesday, January 30, 2013

LifeSouth donor services specialist Dawn McCollum preps Chilton County substitute teacher Kelly Chadwick as she donated blood Jan. 29 at the LifeSouth Bloodmobile at Verbena High School.

Chilton County substitute teacher Kelly Chadwick volunteered to donate blood Jan. 29 at the LifeSouth Bloodmobile at Verbena High School.

Chadwick said she donated blood twice before and never minded donating due to her daughter receiving a kidney transplant and requiring the use of blood on several occasions.

“Whenever I decide to donate blood I always think of my daughter because there was a time when she relied on blood others had donated to help save her life,” Chadwick said.

LifeSouth donor services specialist Dawn McCollum said there is a current shortage of donors with O blood types.

“O blood is useful for a lot of things because it can be used to help save babies’ lives or assist with trauma patients,” McCollum said. “A lot of times a trauma patient needs blood quickly and there isn’t time to figure out what blood type they are so the O type can be used to help them and often will make the difference between life or death.”

McCollum and several other LifeSouth employees will be at Piggly Wiggly in Jemison on Feb. 2 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in hopes that more people will donate.

McCollum said when the bloodmobile is stationed at various locations the employees will set a goal for that exact location to collect a certain amount of blood.

“Our goal while at Verbena was to have 22 people donate today and Chadwick helped us meet that goal,” McCollum said.

McCollum said many high school students at Verbena donated for the first time due to 16-year-olds being allowed to donate with a parent’s consent and 17-year-olds allowed to donate on their own.

“A lot of the students commented they were happy they donated because they were helping possibly save a life,” McCollum said. “I think a lot of them were happy they had the opportunity to help someone else out.”

McCollum said the main misconception for a lot of people who have never donated before is giving blood is often painful.

Although McCollum said each person is different, the majority of the time donating blood is not painful and the reward of knowing someone else will benefit from the blood makes people feel good.

“It might hurt for just a second but it is not as painful as most people think it will be,” McCollum said.

McCollum said the shortage of blood is largely associated with the impact of flu season and not as many regular donors being allowed to donate.

“When certain levels of blood get really low it is very important for people to donate if they can,” McCollum said.

For more information on donating contact LifeSouth at (888) 795-2707 or visit www.lifesouth.org.