By Cathy Spaulding
Times Staff Writer
James Wilson of Fort Gibson says he gives blood every time he’s called.
With an O-positive blood type, he’s called often, he said.
Wilson was at Armstrong Bank’s Fort Gibson branch Monday, giving blood at an Oklahoma Blood Institute drive.
He came just in time.
“Around Christmas time, blood donations tend to decline,” said Ruth Herring, blood program coordinator with the Oklahoma Blood Institute.
She said the decline is because of the holidays combined with bad weather.
Snowstorms that hit Oklahoma over the past two weeks put Oklahoma’s blood supply in a bind, Herring said.
“We need 600 donors every single day to maintain our supply,” she said. “During the storm, we had lost in one week 1,600 donors statewide. We made up for it last week.”
Earlier this month, OBI made an emergency appeal. Since then, donors have come forward, Herring said.
Monday’s blood drive at Armstrong Bank had been previously scheduled and was not affected by the storm, Herring said. Monday marked the OBI’s third drive at the bank this year.
“Most people don’t seem to realize how important it is to have blood supplies on the shelf,” Herring said, adding that many people tend to wait until their family needs blood.
“My aunt fell and needed 11 pints of blood,” she said. “The 11 people who donated blood saved her life.”
Wilson, who is retired, said he knows he has given at least a gallon of blood through various drives such as the OBI’s drive.
To keep the area blood supply going through Christmas and New Year’s, OBI will offer free Duck Dynasty T-shirt to people donating from Dec. 20 through Jan. 11, Herring said.
An OBI blood drive is set for 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 26 at the Cherokee Nation’s Fort Gibson Casino. Another is set for Dec. 30 at Muskogee’s Arrowhead Mall, Herring said.
The American Red Cross, which also hosts blood drives, also has pulled through the storm.
“Our concern was getting through the holidays,” said Jan Hale, communications manager for the American Red Cross. “We have seen an upturn since the storm. So far, so good.”
However anyone eligible to give blood is encouraged to donate, Hale said.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or email@example.com.
You can help:
• Learn about blood drives or donation centers in your area at www.obi.org or by calling (800) 733-2767 (RED CROS)