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Blood centers see fewer donations over holidays
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Tamara Bagwell, a collection specialist, prepares a station Monday at the Red Cross donor center on Jesse Jewell Parkway in Gainesville. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Blood donation centers

American Red Cross

Where: Gainesville Donor Center, 311 Jesse Jewell Parkway Southwest, Gainesville.
When: Mondays through Saturdays

LifeSouth

Where: 1200 McEver Road Extension, Gainesville
When: Daily; call 770-538-0500 for times 

With blood supplies dropping after a holiday slowdown in donations, Alto resident Roy Loggins was a welcome set of veins at the Red Cross Gainesville Donor Center on Monday.

Loggins, with type O-positive blood, came to donate just because he had some free time.

Loggins said his wife was getting physical therapy nearby.

"I know they're always needing blood," he said. "Maybe I can help a little. Maybe one day, I'll be the one needing some blood."

Blood donations can be the difference of life or death for 5 million people who receive blood transfusions each year for emergencies, blood disorders, cancer treatments and other illnesses, according to the Red Cross' website.

This time of year, blood supply groups like the Red Cross and LifeSouth Community Blood Centers labor to keep the supply of blood up with demand.

"Donations tend to be down because people are traveling and cooking and shopping," said Linda Rounds, a blood services coordinator for the American Red Cross. "(Blood) usage usually continues over the holidays to be steady, if not increase."

Currently, Rounds said, supplies of type O-negative and type B-negative are getting low.

LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, which has an office in Gainesville, reports an "urgent need" for Type O-negative.

Elizabeth Higgins, a spokeswoman at the Gainesville center, said there's also a great need for platelet donations.

Platelets are used for cancer treatments, organ transplants and burn patients.

Fewer people give platelets, largely because it's a longer process.

Like traditional blood donations, blood is pulled from the veins, but actually with a smaller needle, said Higgins.

The donor then waits as a centrifuge separates platelets from the rest of the blood. The remaining blood is returned to the donor's body.

Both Red Cross and LifeSouth accept platelet donations.

Knowing the trends, blood donor organizations prepare for shortages, but also campaign for more donors.

"Actually, we reach out to the media and ask them to help us bring (donors) in," said Tiffany Davis, a Red Cross member at the Gainesville Donor Center. 

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