Vitalant Community Leadership Council search for blood donors

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – It’s estimated that every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. But a major supplier to hospitals and clinics in the area is facing a drastic shortage.

Vitalant is tackling that with its Community Leadership Council, a team of influencers who are trying to get the word out about the need for more blood donors.

As a physician, Dr. Vernon Rayford knows the importance of having enough blood available.

“Blood and blood products save lives,” said Rayford.

That is one reason Rayford joined Vitalant’s Community Leadership Council. The CLC meets every other month at Vitalant’s Tupelo offices. During this meeting, Vitalant employees updated the current blood supply, which stands at an emergency shortage. There simply aren’t enough people coming in to donate.

Consequences can be devastating and that’s why the leadership council wants to get the word out about the ongoing need for blood donors. And Vitalant is the only supplier of blood to 22 hospitals in the region.

“The supply of blood and blood products has specific restrictions, in that it can only come from volunteer donors, and that creates pressure for those blood bank services. It’s important to have adequate supplies of blood and products, for a range of conditions from cancer, and trauma to sickle cell disease,” said Rayford.

Alex Farned is head of Tupelo Park and Rec. He became a CLC member last year and said what he’s seen and learned has been eye-opening.

“The big reason I am involved, in my first meeting, you look at the blood bank, their refrigerators and how empty they are, that is a wake-up call and you say, what can I do, what can we do as a community to help the community help get more donors in here to give blood,” said Farned.

Barley Juarez is a regional communications manager for Vitalant. She said the Community Leadership Council is a key way to educate leaders about Vitalant’s mission, so they can take that message to their communities.

“We have different avenues and ways to spread the message, you can be a blood donor yourself, if that’s something you can’t do, you can host a blood drive, or spread the message through social media platforms, churches, friends, and family, being an advocate of what blood donation is, and expressing the passion behind it, Vitalant is the local blood bank, we service hospitals here locally,” said Juarez.

Last year, Vitalant received 9,600 units of blood locally. The goal, this year, is more than 10,000. They’re hoping to do that with the help of the CLC and the simple message that donating blood saves lives.

Also, as an incentive, anyone donating blood through January 20 will be entered into a drawing for an all-expense paid trip to the Super Bowl next month.

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