Donors go above and beyond at American Legion blood drive

Red Cross mobile phlebotomist Justin Staggers. PHOTO BY SAMANTHA LYLES

Donor Laura Westbrook came out to give the gift of life at the Red Cross Blood Drive at American Legion Post 13. PHOTO BY SAMANTHA LYLES

By Samantha Lyles

slyles@newsandpress.net

Darlington County citizens — many of them veterans — turned out to give the gift of life last week during a Red Cross blood drive hosted at American Legion Post 13 on Harry Byrd Highway. “With everything that’s going on with the coronavirus now, there are so many people in need of blood, we felt that this would be a really good event to host here in Darlington,” said Brenda Jenkins, Post 13 adjutant. While she wasn’t keeping a formal tally of which service branch dominated the donations, Jenkins (a USAF retiree) noted a preponderance of Air Force veterans among the donors. Though the post has held other public service events in the past, such as health fairs for veterans and canned food collections to help area food banks, this is the first time they’ve staged a full-scale blood drive. Jenkins said that when she proposed the idea to Post 13 leadership, they immediately got on board, and so did the Darlington County community. “Traffic has been pretty steady all day, just about nonstop,” Jenkins said. “We’ve had two or three appointments every 15 minutes, so that’s pretty good.” Justin Staggers, a Red Cross mobile phlebotomist, said the event goal was to secure 22 units of blood, and they had already received 15 donations within the first 90 minutes. Many of the appointments were long-time donors who routinely turn up at Red Cross blood drives. But whether they were regulars or first-timers, every donor received a test for COVID-19 antibodies, the results of which were delivered to them confidentially within a few days. “You can also download our app and get your results that way,” Staggers said. “When the test is done, it will tell you if you are negative or positive. If you test positive, someone from Red Cross will reach out to you and ask if you would donate plasma.” The FDA has encouraged people who have fully recovered from COVID-19 for at least two weeks to consider donating plasma, which may help save the lives of other patients. To keep up with planned events or learn about membership in the American Legion, visit Post 13 on Facebook. For the latest on Red Cross blood drives in our area or to book a donation appointment, check www.redcross.org.

Author: Rachel Howell

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