Midlands residents give the gift of life at New Year’s Blood Drive

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — Last January, the American Red Cross reported a nationwide blood shortage.

This year, to help make sure the blood supply for hospitals is sufficient, we at ABC Columbia and the American Red Cross teamed up for a New Year’s Blood Drive.

“There’s always a possibility of a blood shortage. As fast as we’re getting it, it’s going back out,” said lead phlebotomist Kendal Benjamin. “This time of the year, nobody is really giving blood. There’s a lot of trauma and cancer patients who really need it.”

The Red Cross says that blood can only be stored for about a month and a half, which is why regular donors are so important. 

“I’ve been donating blood every eight weeks for about three years. I started in March of 2020. There was a dramatic need that people were made aware of,” said Michaela Barno, blood donor.

Barno was inspired to give because of the pandemic and her universal O blood type. Another Midlands resident felt the need to give blood after the emergency during this week’s Monday night football game. 

“Today’s my day off and I figured it’s a good thing to do. We signed up for it,” said Ken Szetela. “Now there’s even more of a reason after the game the other night. We decided to wear our Bills shirts and try to do something good.”

As part of National Donor Month, the Red Cross is entering anyone who gives during the month of into a drawing for a trip for two to next year’s Super Bowl. 

“It’s not bad. People get their blood taken yearly for a physical,” Szetela said. “It’s no different. It’s an easy thing to do and only takes an hour of your time.”

“It’s always good to drink water and eat high iron food,,” Benjamin said. “Eat a good bit because you’re going to lose a pound of blood.”

It may seem like an intimidating process at first, but Barno says that the Red Cross staff has helped make donating blood easy and painless. 

“I don’t look at it and I hardly feel it,” Barno said. “Every Red Cross volunteer or worker I’ve had has been outstanding.”

She also encourages anyone interested in donating blood to download the Red Cross app.

“It was so simple to just follow-up. They let me know I’m eligible and about a drive in my area,” Barno said. “It’s so easy to sign up again and again.”

You can sign up on your phone beforehand to make the process easier. Check out more blood drives in your area or how to give at your local American Red Cross here.

Categories: Local News, Richland