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Watch now: Red Cross pleas for more blood donations during shortage

Blood donation

Becky Anderson donates blood at Passion Community Church on June 2. Anderson's daughter, Shoni, was diagnosed with leukemia early this year and encouraging blood donation has become a mission of both mother and daughter. 


DECATUR — Every summer, the Red Cross experiences a shortage of blood donors, but this year, it's especially critical.

Right now there's a great demand for blood, as patients who previously deferred care for the pandemic, and have had more advanced disease progression, their sickness is worse,” said Dawn Morris, executive director of the South Central Region of the Red Cross, which includes Macon County. “That means more blood transfusions. Always this time of year, in the summer months, the need is greater. People are out and moving around more, so there are more accidents.”

Another factor is, now that the state is open again, people are doing more in response to the long year of things being closed, she said. People are anxious to get out of the house and participate in activities that they missed, and that causes an uptick in the need for blood.

The biggest need is for Type O, because that's universal and can be used for any other blood type, but all blood types are needed. To donate whole blood, you must be at least 16, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health and feel well on donation day.

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Platelets are also desperately needed, and to donate, you must be at least 17 and weigh at least 110 pounds. Those who have had a COVID-19 vaccine are still eligible to donate. You have to provide the name of the manufacturer of the vaccine you received to determine eligibility. If you don't know which vaccine you received, you must wait at least two weeks to donate blood and be symptom-free at the time of donation.

“I started donating when my dad received a living kidney transplant (in 2013) from my cousin,” said Crystal Sunderland of Oreana. “I went in to be tested but our blood types weren’t compatible so I couldn’t donate one of mine to him, so I decided after that I would donate blood. I generally make my appointments every eight weeks.”

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Sara Nave of Decatur donates regularly, too, and has since she was a teenager.

“I started donating when I was in high school. I had a friend who got in a bad car accident and we hosted a blood drive at my high school,” she said.

Shoni Anderson of Mount Zion is battling leukemia and blood donation is critical to her treatment. She and her mother, Becky, have made it their joint mission to host blood drives and held their most recent one on June 2 at Passion Community Church. The Mount Zion community has rallied around Shoni and dubbed themselves "Team Shoni," and her Facebook page has more than 1,000 members. 

Team Shoni

Becky Anderson of Mount Zion holds her daughter, Shoni, 5, who was diagnosed with leukemia in January. The two of them have made it their mission to host blood drives in gratitude for the blood that Shoni depends on to fight her disease. 

“It creates a feeling of love and peace, just the amount of people praying and lifting us up, gives us energy,” said Becky Anderson.

Morris' sister received a donation two years ago that saved her life, which is one of the reasons she's so passionate about it, she said. A single pint of blood can potentially save three lives, yet only 3% of people give.

“If you want to be a true hero go give blood,” Morris said. “Where else can you go and do such a small act of kindness and have such a big impact?”

Contact Valerie Wells at (217) 421-7982. Follow her on Twitter: @modgirlreporter


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