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Blood Assurance Donor Care Specialists Joshua Jackson and Wendy Spears encourage people to donate blood this holiday season with some awesome goodies. Volunteer blood donors will receive a free T-shirt and a fleece blanket upon completion of donation, while supplies last.

Travel increases throughout the holiday season. From Thanksgiving to the New Year, holiday travelers crisscross the globe to visit family far and wide. During these months, there are more accidents due to the heavy traffic, congested roadways and hazardous travel conditions.

During this time of year, more people are in need of blood transfusions because of critical injuries sustained during an accident.

Blood Assurance of Tullahoma knows firsthand how much blood the area needs and notices a drastic decrease in the available supply during the holidays, which is the time blood is in the highest demand.

“During the holidays we have on average about 10 people donate a day,” said donor care specialist Joshua Jackson. “These numbers are very low and should be triple that. This is the time of year when there is a higher demand for blood because there are so many more accidents happening around us.”

The process of blood donation is a rather simple 30- to 45-minute process. When donors visit Blood Assurance, they’re greeted with a friendly smile.  Then, they answer a few simple questions about their health and get settled into a big, comfortable chair to donate.

There are 12 pints of blood in the human body, in a normal blood donation session, a volunteer will donate 450-500 mL of blood, the equivalent to one pint of blood. After the blood is taken, it is sent to a lab to be checked, tested and processed before being sent to a blood bank. Each pint of blood that is sent to the blood bank has only a five-day shelf life. This is another reason that donation is so important.

“Every blood donation saves three lives,” Jackson said. “A lot of people travel during November through January so donation blood isn’t a priority on their minds. However, there are so many more accidents and need for blood transfusions. Because blood doesn’t have a very long shelf life, there is a constant demand for a supply of every blood type.”

Chattanooga-based Blood Assurance operates on a volunteer basis. There is no compensation for donating blood, but rather the satisfaction of giving back to the community.

“Giving blood is a very selfless thing to do, especially during the holiday season,” Jackson said.

Every ounce of blood donated at Blood Assurance goes right back to the community. After the blood is tested and processed at a lab, it is sent back to area hospitals. According to the Blood Assurance website, less than 10 percent of the eligible population donates. Volunteers donate virtually all of the country’s supply for blood transfusions. This is why it’s so important that every able donor gives blood for patients in their region.

Blood Assurance also participates in disaster relief across the country. When there is a disaster, like the recent earthquake in Alaska, Blood Assurance sends aid with donated blood for those who need transfusions after sustaining injuries in the disaster.

Because Blood Assurance is volunteer-based, staff members do everything they can to encourage people to come and donate blood. Upon completion of donation, volunteers are given a T-shirt and a fleece blanket to commemorate the special moment of saving lives. Volunteers are also given sugary snacks to help sustain their blood sugar level after a donation.

Through December and January, donors are given a stamp card, on which each donation is counted. Once the card is the stamp card is filled, it is entered to win a $1,000 gift certificate.

To be eligible to donate blood, volunteers must be 18 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. Volunteer donors who are 16 and 17 years old require a one-time parental consent. Donors can give blood up to six times a year. This equates to roughly every eight weeks or every 56 days. There is no appointment needed.

If you do decide to donate blood this holiday season, your donor care specialist will secure your arm with a seasonal bandage bow.

Share your donation experience with the world through the use of social media. Use the hashtag #BloodAssurance to connect with other donors.

Blood Assurance of Tullahoma is open 8 a.m. till 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, and is closed on Sunday.

Blood Assurance is located at 604 N. Jackson St. in Tullahoma. For more information on Blood Assurance of Tullahoma, call 931-461-5773.

Faith Few can be reached by email at ffew@tullahomanews.com.