Record-setting blood drive donation numbers at Fort Jackson have helped put the installation back on American Red Cross's map.

Six community blood drives are scheduled on post this year.

"It's kind of a reenergized effort," said Rebecca Jordan, executive director of central South Carolina American Red Cross.

Two successful American Red Cross blood drives in 2018 redeemed the installation's record.

In 2015, the Red Cross's last collection event on post yielded just five units of blood.

American Red Cross community blood drives hadn't been held since.

Roughly 30 units are required to make the blood drives cost effective, Jordan said.

If donors don't turn up, staffers are paid to wait.

At the last Solomon Center blood drive Aug. 24, donors contributed a record 46 units of blood.

The most recent fire department blood drive collected 24 units.

Jordan attributes the uptick to "getting the word out."

Fort Jackson frequently hosts blood drives, but normally the Armed Services Blood Program runs them.

ASBP sends contributions to Soldiers deployed overseas.

Community blood drives help out the locals. Blood donated at these events go to surrounding hospitals.

Since South Carolina is currently in an "emergency appeal" -- hospitals are using more blood than they can collect -- donations made now will probably remain within state limits, Jordan said.
"There's been a decline in the people that donate," she said.

Fort Jackson Soldiers in need of blood transfusions are treated off post, so some of the blood donated may go back to members of the installation's community.

"(The American Red Cross) supplies about 40 percent of the blood that is used in hospitals," Jordan said.

Blood can't be manufactured. The only way to stock the shelves is through living donors.

Someone needs blood every two seconds, Jordan said, and one donation can save three lives.

"That's a gift of life," said Marcia Alleyne, patient safety manager at Fort Jackson. "(Blood) expires, so there's a constant need to replace (and) replenish (the supply)."

The lifespan of whole blood is roughly 42 days. Platelets perishes even faster, Alleyne said.

The next Fort Jackson Community Blood Drive will be held at the Solomon Center Friday, Jan. 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Donors can check their eligibility and schedule an appointment online at redcrossblood.org with the sponsor code FortJackson.

Alternatively, they can email yvonne.taylorware2@redcross.org or William.b.sexton.civ@mail.mil to sign up.

The entire process of whole blood-giving takes roughly an hour.

The blood-taking process lasts less than 10 minutes.

"It really is easy to do," Jordan said, and to make the deal even sweeter, "you get cookies at the end."

Individuals who can't give blood can volunteer instead.

"Everyone is not able to donate blood, but there are other things you can do," Alleyne said. She helps transport American Red Cross blood.

"It's a way for me to give back to my community that has given me so much," Alleyne added.