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LifeSouth in dire need of blood donations

By: Donnamy Steele

Lifesouth Community Blood Bank is facing an emergency need for blood donations.

Jasmine Edwards and Melinda Hinds explained that the need is driven by the pandemic and that people who have recovered from the virus are in high demand for donations.

Jasmine Edwards took blood donations with Lifesouth at the Andalusia Walmart on Monday. Edwards explained that the need for blood is influenced by schools transitioning to virtual learning and the pandemic.

“Right now we are in such a big need for blood. We are always in need of blood, but especially right now with schools not being open in some of the areas,” Edwards said. “Donations are kind of down and slow, so we are pretty much relying on our Walmarts and different retails or businesses that are allowing us to come to collect more donors for the patients in the hospital that are in need right now, especially during COVID-19.”

The Lifesouth bus was parked at Walmart on Monday, but it will be back every other week, said Edwards.

“Today we are here until 4 p.m., but we usually come just about every other week. You can also check on our website at www.lifesouth.org and just type in your zip code and it will pull up all of the times and dates we will be in the Andalusia area,” Edwards said.

Melinda Hinds explained that additional testing will be done for each donation that is taken during the pandemic. One of the tests is a COVID-19 antibody test which can tell whether the donor has had the virus in the past, Hinds said.

“Every donation is going through testing and one of the tests that we are testing for is to see if the donor has COVID-19 antibodies,” Hinds said. “If they do, we will contact them and let them know that there are antibodies in their blood that could possibly be a life-saving therapeutic treatment for people who are critically ill with the COVID-19 virus.”

Hinds explained that people who have recovered from COVID-19 could aid doctors in saving patients who are critically ill with the virus, increasing the need for donations.

“Doctors in hospitals are placing orders wanting the convalescent plasma to help with the treatment of the critically ill patients who are ill with COVID-19. So if someone comes in and they donate blood with Lifesouth, of course, every donation has to go through a series of testing to make sure the blood is safe to go to the hospital and go to a patient,” Hinds said. “Once the COVID-19 antibodies are sighted, our medical office will reach out and contact to see if they would want to be a convalescent donor for one of the local hospitals.”

Donating blood is still safe to do despite the ongoing pandemic, according to Hinds. She explained that Lifesouth is requesting people to donate blood, especially if their blood type is O-negative.

“The reason that the antibodies more than likely would be there is if you have recovered from COVID and you are symptom-free and it has been more than 28 days since your symptoms. If you have recovered, you should have the antibodies. And of course, you can’t donate blood if you have any symptoms, so it is more than safe to donate blood during the pandemic. We need blood products and right now we are actually in an emergency need for O-negative, so if you are O-negative, we really need you to try to donate with Lifesouth.”

Hinds encourages local businesses, churches, and schools to host a blood drive. “If there is a church or a business or a school that would like to host a blood drive in the area, please visit the website, email, or call and we will assist them with that,” Hinds said. “We are always looking for more donor groups.”

For more information about Lifesouth, to donate blood, or to host a blood drive, call Melinda Hinds at 334-819-1323, email mahinds@lifesouth.org, or visit www.lifesouth.org.