Be a lifesaver: Red Cross and City kick-off annual blood drive

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The American Red Cross, Mayor Steve Benjamin and the City of Columbia have teamed up for the third year in a row to ask members of the community to be lifesavers.

The annual blood drive will kicked off at 7 a.m. and will run through 2 p.m. this Tuesday and Wednesday at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in the Exhibit Hall.

Officials with the Red Cross South Carolina Blood Services Region say their goal is to collect 500 pints of blood through the two-day event. The agency says an average blood drive collects approximately 35 pints of blood, but the South Carolina region needs 500 pints of blood daily to provide blood to 54 hospitals.  "That's just one day's supply here in the South Carolina Region, and that's just one region out of the entire country, " said Jamie Muldrow, Communications Manager for the SC Blood Services Region. "But we can do it," she added. "We can get 500 units today and tomorrow, and we encourage folks to come out and help us reach that."

Muldrow adds that most of the blood collected is used locally, but in the event that a region has a shortage in their blood supply, they rely on other regions like South Carolina. Because of winter storm "Nemo," Red Cross officials say approximately 160 blood drives were canceled. Officials estimate that that's a loss of nearly 6,000 pints of blood.

Muldrow says there's no word yet whether the South Carolina region will be sending supplies to the Northeast, but she says they try to prepare to supply beyond the region if there is a need. "There is a constant need for blood, but there is a particular need for type O negative, type O positive and B negative so if you have those blood types we certainly need you to come by, but we encourage everyone to make an effort to come by today," added Muldrow.

The Red Cross says all blood donors will receive a T-shirt, a bag of Starbucks Coffee and they will be entered to win a $300 Wal-Mart gift card.

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