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Your blood donation needed more than ever

The national blood supply continues to be critically low, and without blood donations, we won’t have the ability to meet patients’ life-sustaining blood requirements.

Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. It is essential for surgeries, cancer treatment, chronic illnesses, premature births and traumatic injuries.

This lifesaving care starts with one person making a generous yet relatively simple donation.

St. Mary Basilica has a Blood Drive scheduled Tuesday, March 23, from 1 to 6 p.m. at the O’Connor Family Life Center, 613 Main St., Natchez.

Donating blood usually takes less than an hour. Scheduling an appointment in advance may decrease your wait, and it helps the blood service schedule enough staff.

Vitalant.org offers a Fast Track Health History Questionnaire online you can complete the day of the blood drive, before you arrive, and it will save you about 10 minutes at the Family Life Center.

If you find that you have to come earlier or later than your scheduled appointment, that’s OK too. Please don’t avoid making an appointment just because you’re not sure of the exact time you’ll be available.

If you have received the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, you are still eligible to donate blood as long as you meet all the general blood donation eligibility criteria. On their website, Vitalant.org, you can find a complete medication deferral list, a country visitation deferral list, medical history eligibility and more. Most health conditions are acceptable, and you may be eligible, even if you’ve been told in the past that you cannot donate.

Pregnant women may not donate, but breastfeeding women are eligible.

Donors must be in good, overall health on the day of the blood drive including no fever or sniffles. Donors aged 16 must provide a permission form, signed by a parent/guardian, which can be found on the vitalant.org website. Donors 17-year-old and older are welcome to donate without the consent form.

If you meet certain criteria, you may even be able to give what is referred to as a Double Red donation or apheresis. A special machine is used to allow you to safely donate two units of red blood cells during one donation while returning your plasma and platelets to you. The process takes approximately 30 minutes longer than a whole blood donation.

Did you know that one donation can save up to three lives? Everyone has this valuable, self-generating resource.

At some point, we will all know a friend, neighbor, family member, or co-worker who needs a blood transfusion. In fact, one in three people will need blood in their lifetime.

The demand for blood is constant. There is absolutely NO substitute. It just doesn’t exist. These people must count on healthy people to donate so that they can live.

Vitalant recommends that you eat within two hours ahead of your donation, avoiding fatty foods like hamburgers, donuts or ice cream. Drink plenty of water that day and 24-48 hours beforehand and eat foods rich in iron and vitamin C.

You should not donate if don’t feel well or if you are awaiting test results from a COVID-19 test. Or if in the previous two weeks, you have lived with or been in close contact with individuals diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19. Or if you are a health-care worker who has not consistently been able to use recommended PPE while caring for a patient diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19.

Blood donors are not tested for COVID-19; however, Vitalant is testing all blood donations for the antibodies. If your donation is antibody positive, we can produce convalescent plasma from it to help COVID patients, and the remaining blood components will help other patients with serious medical conditions.

Our hope is that all our regular donors and many new donors will donate blood to help save lives.

If you have any questions, call 877-258-4825. Please go to Vitalant.org and sign up as soon as possible. Appointments are preferred but are not required.

You can also call Regina at St. Mary Basilica rectory (601) 445-5616.

Charlene Rushing is a member of Community Services at St. Mary Basilica.

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