Blood donations reach critical need during holidays

Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 31, 2016

Repeat  donor David Murtagh makes his regular donation Thursday at The Blood Center Clinic in Picayune.  Photo by Julia Arenstam

Repeat donor David Murtagh makes his regular donation Thursday at The Blood Center Clinic in Picayune.
Photo by Julia Arenstam

Each December, hundreds of calls are made to local residents asking for one extra gift, one that could save a life.

Because blood donations historically dip during the holiday season, one donation company has begun a new program to bring in more donors.

The Blood Center is nearing the end of their 12 Days of Giving special, which lasts until New Year’s Eve as way to encourage donations during this critical time of the year.

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“Donations always dip during holidays, this year is no exception,” The Blood Center Public Relations Manager Paul Adams said.

From Dec. 19 through Dec. 31, The Blood Center drew names of prizewinners who took home gift cards and vouchers for participating businesses from Southeast Louisiana and Mississippi.

Typically, The Blood Center aims to have a three-day supply of blood on hand in case of an emergency or natural disaster, Adams said. But, during slow donation times like Christmas, the supply is reduced to a day or two.

“That’s one of the key reasons we’re giving this to our donors,” Adams said.

About 60 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, a press release from the organization states, but only 5 percent actually do.

Blood donations can be made every two months, and repeat donor David Murtagh said the staff at the center in Picayune are always sure to call and remind him when he can make another donation.

The giveaway program is also a great way to work with area businesses that hold blood drives throughout the year, Adams said.

“Blood is traditionally in short supply during the holidays, yet the demand for blood and blood components is constant,” the release states.

“Blood is one of those things that you hope that you don’t have to send it out, but you always do,” Adams said.

Prizes distributed were from The Cheesecake Factory, The Natchez steam boat, Mignot Faget jewelry, Area 51 Laser Tag, Harley Davidson, New Orleans School of

Cooking, Harrah’s Gulf Coast Casino and Monteleone Hotel, Adams said.

Adams suggests eating a good meal and drinking plenty of liquids before heading to a donation center.

The Blood Center has 14 donation centers on the Gulf Coast and services more than 30 hospitals and health facilities, the release states.

The Blood Center in Picayune is located at 318 Memorial Blvd. and is open Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For other Blood Center locations and information, visit

About Julia Arenstam

Staff Writer

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