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170 show up to donate blood at annual Thanksgiving blood drive

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

At the 16th annual Thanksgiving day blood drive, a total of 170 donors from the surrounding areas gave blood inside in the St. James Armory.

A total of 127 whole blood units and 58 power red (double units) were donated, for a total of 185 units.

"Every unit of blood collected can be separated and used by up to three different recipients," said Amanda Reinarts, Collections Specialist II with the American Red Cross. "We like to tell our donors, 'You just saved up to 3 lives with your one donation.' We saved so many lives today."

Despite COVID-19 cases rising throughout the area, Reinarts says that the pandemic hasn't affected blood drives in a major way.

"Thankfully, we haven't seen it affect our blood drives that much. Donors continue to come out. There was definitely a little bit of a lull when the pandemic first started happening, but since then we're as busy as we've ever been. People continue to donate because they know how important it is and we're doing the safety measures and precautions."

Reinarts says she's not surprised by the continued support even through the pandemic.

"I grew up in this area, and this is just how these people are," said Reinarts. "It doesn't surprise me at all knowing that we're the biggest region in the Red Cross as far as blood donations go. I know a lot of these people and I see them every year and they know how important this is."

"The need for blood doesn't stop during a pandemic or during the holidays. So it's very significant that we don't stop collecting blood. We continue to need the blood. Every two seconds somebody needs blood. So regardless of what day it is, or the holiday, or the day of the week, blood collection is always going to be important and essential. Being that we are basically the only one in the Midwest that has this blood drive, we're doing a lot to keep the hospitals full." 

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, facemasks were required by everyone in attendance, and staff members were required to wear gloves. Every surface that donors touched was wiped down immediately.