Area blood supplies at critical level

From Staff Reports

   Supplies of O positive, O negative, and A positive blood have reached emergency levels at the Johnson City Blood Center, prompting the American Red Cross to sponsor two special blood drives next week in the area.
   Blood drives will be held Tuesday, Jan. 13, at Kind Chiropractic, Sunset Drive, Johnson City, and Thursday, Jan. 15, at the Trinity United Methodist Church, Tusculum Blvd., Greeneville. The Jan. 13 blood drive will be from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and the Jan. 15 drive will be from 1 to 6 p.m.
   Sherry Greenwell, donor recruitment representative for the Carolinas Blood Service Region of the American Red Cross, said in addition to the emergency levels of O positive, O negative, and A positive, reserves of most other blood types are below a two-day supply.
   Greenwell said a lot of donors were lost because of the flu epidemic at the end of November and the first of December. "Everyone was sick with the flu, and if you're sick you can't donate," she said.
   She noted that the holidays are not a good time to collect blood as people are involved with other things and with traveling.
   The loss of donors due to illness and the holidays has forced the area blood supply down to a .9 day supply overall, with less than a one-day supply for the three blood types in emergency status. The rest of the blood types are at critical levels, which means just over a day's supply.
   Also, a blood drive will be at the First Baptist Church in Elizabethton from 1:30 to 6 p.m. today. A blood drive will be held at Kmart in Johnson City from 1 to 5:30 p.m. Friday donors will have the opportunity to be included in the bone marrow registry at no cost.
   The Johnson City Blood Center is open Mondays from 2:30 to 7 p.m.; Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and the third Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Call 928-7541, ext. 12, for an appointment to donate at the blood center. All donors will receive free family and friends magnets, and during the month of January donors at the blood center will receive a McDonald's coupon compliments of Bear Creek Inc., a McDonald's corporation.
   Donors should be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in general good health. You cannot donate if you are sick with a cold or flu or are currently taking antibiotics.
   Diabetics can donate as long as their insulin levels have been constant for two weeks.
   Greenwell said that most people, in general, can give blood. "The biggest reason people don't is that they were never asked or they have a fear. But once you donate blood and you see how easy it is, you'll ask yourself, 'Why haven't I been doing this for a long time?'" she said.
   "It's so easy, and the little pinch that you feel when you donate blood is such a small price to pay for saving lives," Greenwell said.
   Donors should eat a balanced meal at least two hours before donating and should drink extra water on that day.