As “the Season for Giving” draws near, DeKalb Countians are invited to participate in a special Blood Assurance blood drive and public awareness observance for Tennessee Organ Donor Services.
The event, sponsored by DeKalb County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss, will be held on Tuesday, November 29 at the Smithville Senior Citizens Center in the County Complex. The mobile blood drive, conducted by Blood Assurance, will take place in front of the Senior Center from 1:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. It’s being called the “DeKalb County Neighbors Helping Neighbor’s Program”. Along with the blood drive, information will be shared by representatives of Tennessee Donor Services and Donate Life Tennessee on the importance of organ and tissue donation including personal stories from donor recipients and families of donors.
The holidays seemed the perfect time to schedule such an event, said County Clerk Poss, during a season when people are in the spirit of giving and sharing. “Thinking of the upcoming holidays Thanksgiving and Christmas, I immediately think of joyful memories many make with family and friends. I am also mindful of others during this time and throughout each year who are in need of donation whether it be blood, bone marrow or organ,” he said.
“Most of us consider gifts as personal items we can touch, see, smell, taste or physically use, all purchased with money. For many it’s not until adulthood before we realize our most important gift is life and good health. As we approach the upcoming seasons let us remember through Christ’s gift of his bloodshed, death and resurrection he paid our expense and again offers each another free gift of forgiveness of sins and everlasting life only by accepting him as our Lord and savior,” Poss continued.
“Blood Assurance is the local supplier of blood and blood products in Smithville to Saint Thomas DeKalb Hospital. We also provide blood directly to other area hospitals in McMinnville and Sparta but we are the regional blood center that gives back all of the blood locally. We have blood drives throughout the year across all of our territories. Blood Assurance is in five states including Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Virginia, and North Carolina. We have centers and mobile blood drives,” said Mindy Quinn, Marketing Manager of Blood Assurance.
“I have been a blood donor for about 4 years know. I have donated to both American Red Cross and Cookeville Blood Assurance. Either is doing good work for others. However; I prefer donating to Cookeville Blood Assurance when possible. By donating through Cookeville Blood Assurance they provide their collections to several surrounding local hospitals and families in our area,” Poss said.
“The importance now is the time of year. Once the holidays kick in, donations start to slow down. The holidays are also when usage from area hospitals goes up because more people are traveling and on the road and unfortunately there will be more crisis situations from vehicle accidents and things where hospitals need to ensure that the supplies are there. We reach out to our communities, especially around Thanksgiving and then straight on through winter time to make sure that we are able to provide the blood supplies that are needed,” added Quinn.
“Individuals need to be age 18 or older to donate blood or 16 or 17 with parental consent. We do a mini-medical with everyone that comes in so you don’t necessarily have to worry about where you’ve been traveling. But as long as you have parental consent and you weigh at least 110 pounds or more, you are eligible to come in and give. All donors who give blood will be given a long sleeved tee shirt. It’s our “Peace, Love, Blood Donation” tee shirt and everyone will also be entered in a drawing to win a “Family Four Pack” to Rock City. We’re hoping for at least 30 donors on that day,” said Quinn.
While the need for blood donors is great, so is the need for organ and tissue donors. “Right now in the United States there are over 120,000 people waiting for that life saving transplant and in Tennessee there are 2,900. Most of them are waiting for a kidney transplant. The need is great. Nationally 22 people die each day waiting for a transplant. That could be your neighbor, the people who wait on you in the grocery store, or checks you out. It could be a church member. Organ and tissue donation touches all of us at some point in time whether we realize it or not,” said Sharon Pakis, Public Relations Education Manager for Tennessee Donor Services and Donate Life Tennessee.
“County Clerk Poss has invited us to come up and spend the day on Tuesday, November 29. For us it’s to educate people in DeKalb County on the importance of organ and tissue donation and how signing up or saying “yes” to organ and tissue donation allows you to save lives or enhance lives through donation. We will have two individuals with us. One is an organ recipient whose life was changed by the gracious gift of someone who donated an organ. The other one is an individual whose family member was either an organ or tissue donor. They are going to do presentations at 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to tell their stories and help people understand the importance of organ and tissue donation,” Pakis continued.
“After attending my first organ donor meeting I was overwhelmed by their services and the gratitude of both recipients and the donors’ families. The stories shared were absolutely amazing. To hear a recipient give thanks to a donor and their family for extending a loved one’s life by donating a heart, lung, kidney, or whatever the organ, bone or tissue may be can only be realized and truly appreciated by seeing, hearing and feeling the love shared from both sides,” said County Clerk Poss.
“Nationally our goal is to have over 50% of Americans signed up as organ and tissue donors because 98% of the people in the United States say they support organ and tissue donation but nationally only 50% have signed up. In the state of Tennessee, we are at about 39%. We are a little below the national average and we would like to be at least with the national average. In DeKalb County 32% of individuals who are over the age of 18 with a driver license or state ID have registered to be an organ and tissue donor,” said Pakis.
“You may sign up to be an organ and tissue donor when you get or renew your driver license or you may go to www.donatelifetn.org and register online. This puts your name into the official Donate Life Tennessee Organ and Tissue Registry. It’s very easy. We invite people to come out on November 29 and learn more about organ and tissue donation and find out how they can save lives. We are excited about the opportunity and we hope to see a lot of folks from DeKalb County,” added Pakis.
"Please support and take part in this event. Every person matters. Come out and give blood or just experience the amazing stories that will be shared from both organ and tissue donor recipients and donor families. We will begin donating blood at 1:00 p.m. ending around 6:00 p.m. The Tennessee Organ Donor Services will have a table set up with educational materials and representatives will be available to answer questions about how their services extends the lives of many in need. We will also have snacks and refreshments available. We look forward to the community’s support,” County Clerk Poss concluded.