Mark Wilson has been donating blood for 10 years.

It started when his mom needed blood and continued when his niece was diagnosed with leukemia and they shared the same blood type.

“I have donated 61 pints of blood,” he said. “I come every 60 days to donate.”

Wilson was one of at least 15 people who donated blood during an impromptu donation drive by the Oklahoma Blood Institute. The drive, which was held at the Claremore VFW, replaced a drive that was postponed because of inclement weather.

OBI Supervisor Hannah Ethridge said there is an immediate need for blood. Ethridge said the OBI has been in an emergency blood appeal since Feb. 9.

Ethridge says when they enter in an emergency blood appeal, there is only enough blood supply for one day.

“Our amazing donors just come,” she said. “It turned out amazing.”

Abby Piha is a middle school special education teacher at Oologah – Talala Schools and came down to donate during her lunch break.

“I’m healthy so I might as well,” she said.

Piha said she started donating blood almost four years ago after her mother-in-law received several blood transfusions that saved her life.

Ethridge said that one donation has the ability to save three lives. Ethridge said within each donation platelets, red blood cells and plasma are received – which are then given to someone in need.

Ethridge said they are collecting convalescent plasma from donors that have recovered from COVID-19.

“That plasma is given to someone fighting COVID,” she said.

The process to donate blood ranges from 45 minutes to an hour. Upon arrival, attendees sign up, undergo a screening with questions regarding health history, have their blood drawn for 10–15 minutes and then wait to be released.

For those who are afraid of needles, Ethridge said there other ways to help – by volunteering.

Ashley Bell is the Volunteer coordinator and can be reached at ashley.bell@obi.org.

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