Blood drive helps storm victims

March 3, 2007

Albany -- The local American Red Cross Blood Bank sees an increased number of donors flowing in, many wanting to help injured tornado victims. The entire blood supply at Sumter Regional Hospital was destroyed in the storm, and good citizens want to see it replenished.

One young volunteer sponsors a blood drive to help storm victims and meet blood supply demands.

Not every 17-year-old would spend their Saturday doing this. Matt Swafford is volunteering at the Red Cross Blood Bank. He organized the blood drive as his Eagle Scout's project, and now that the storms have passed he clearly understands why it will make a difference.

"Americus lost all of their blood products, which was 50 units, right down the hole. That has to be replenished," said Matt Swafford.

Swafford wants to collect at least 80 pints of blood and at least 6 units of platelets, some of which will help both storm victims and sick patients in the area.

Donors say the pain is minimal, and the need is great.

"It's just a couple of needle sticks," said Julie Parslow.

That's why Julie Parslow comes regularly to donate both blood and platelets, whether disaster strikes or not.

"Rather than try to gather it when the crisis hits, you've already got it on hand, it makes it a lot easier," said Julie Parslow.

Helping others by donating is an easy choice for donors, who encourage others to come out.

"Everbody needs to do their part in it, and all it takes is just 30 minutes of your time. You know and you can help so many people. If everyone did that, we wouldn't be behind," said Richard Roe.

But blood banks workers say supplies in Albany are behind, and that's something Swafford wants to change. He says more donors should come in even if there's not a natural disaster.

"It's something that has to continue to happen for there to be a large scale effect," said Swafford.

The effects of the storm have left many patients throughout the region in need, but the efforts of each and every donor will make a difference.

The Albany Donor Center on Dawson Road extended their hours until 5 Saturday afternoon to help meet needs. The hours to donate on Monday through Wednesday of next week are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Thursday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.