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St. Mary to host blood drive at 5 p.m. Thursday

NATCHEZ — St. Mary Basilica will host a blood drive from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday to help fill the critical need for blood during a national shortage of donations due to the COVID-19 outbreak, organizers said.

Blood drives that are typically held at schools, churches and other public gathering places aren’t happening quite as often because people are sheltering in place to prevent possibly spreading the virus.

However, the critical need for blood still exists even with the cancelation of other blood drives. Therefore, St. Mary will hold its second blood drive since the outbreak at 5 p.m. Thursday at the O’Connor Family Life Center at 613 Main St. in Natchez, organizers said.

“The (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) considers blood donations essential and social distancing procedures are in place,” organizer Susan Nielsen said, adding St. Mary has taken additional precautions for the safety of their donors and staff.

To host the blood drive, St. Mary has partnered with Vitalant, one of the nation’s top blood banks, which provides blood to hospitals in 40 states, Nielsen said.

United Blood Services representative Chassidy Kent said medical professionals believe COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through blood transfusions, however only those who are feeling healthy and well should donate.

Each prospective donor answers a series of health-related questions and has their temperature and blood pressure measured before giving, Kent said.

Specific guidelines and more donor eligibility requirements are listed at vitalant.org, Kent said.

Appointments to donate at St. Mary are preferred but not required, organizers said. Go to bloodhero.com or vitalant.org to set up appointment or call St. Mary Basilica 601-445-5616, Susan Nielsen 504-258-6940 or Charlene Rushing 601-431-9127.