Blood drives organized to combat Red Cross blood donation shortage

The American Red Cross has organized blood drives across Walker County in the coming weeks as part of an effort to combat the winter donation blood shortage. “We always see donations dip during the holidays. However this year we’re lower than anticipated,” said John McGill, an account manager over donor recruitment with the Red Cross. “We usually rebound by this time in January, and this year we haven’t seen that.” Nationwide, the Red Cross needs to collect over 13,000 donations every day to meet its needs, but collected 28,000 fewer donations than usual in November and December 2017. According to a press release from the Red Cross, “busy holiday schedules, winter weather and illness have led to a winter blood donation shortage that could affect patient care.” McGill added that the recent cold temperatures and snow have kept donors from showing up in their usual numbers, causing what he termed a “critical shortage.” Donors of all blood types are “urgently needed,” according to the press release, with type O negative and B negative being “critically needed.”

Three blood drives — in Jasper, Carbon Hill and Dora — will be held during the month of January. The blood drive in Jasper will be held on Monday, Jan. 15, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Bevill State Community College campus by the nursing building. Carbon Hill will be hosting a blood drive on Tuesday, Jan. 16, from 2-7 p.m. at the Carbon Hill Masonic Lodge, while the one in Dora will be held on Saturday, Jan. 27, from noon until 6 p.m. at Aldersgate United Methodist Church. A fourth blood drive is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 9, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Cordova City Hall. McGill said that the blood drive held at Bevill will also function as a fundraiser for a scholarship. He explained that the Red Cross will help fund that scholarship based on the amount of units collected during the blood drive. “We only do it on certain drives, but we’ll make a donation of $10 per pint collected back” to Bevill’s Red Cross booster club, he said, with the scholarship going to a Bevill student. Donated blood “stays local and goes regionally, with the capacity to also be distributed nationally,” McGill explained, adding that the Red Cross supplies 45 percent of the nation’s blood. In order to be eligible to donate blood, potential donors must be 17 years old or over, be in good general health and weigh at least 110 pounds. With parental consent, 16 year olds may also be eligible to donate blood. The Red Cross’ website also states that “if you were deferred from donating in the past, you may be able to donate again.” Those who can’t make it to any of these scheduled drives can encourage their friends and family to donate in their place and can visit the Red Cross website ( to learn about future blood drives.