In trying to buck a bothersome trend that’s plagued the area the past few months, Lifeshare Blood Centers is putting on their best Dracula impersonation – they want your blood.
Interim executive director Robert Taylor said on Wednesday, March 21, that the Lifeshare location in Beaumont is struggling with blood donations as fewer people come into the center to donate, thanks to Mother Nature wreaking havoc as of late, ultimately postponing or canceling blood drives.
“What we’re seeing, and this is not just in Beaumont, but blood donation is just down,” said Taylor, who is no stranger to the need for blood considering he spent most of his career as a hospital administrator before moving to Lifeshare 15 years ago. Taylor, who lives in Shreveport, La., worked as the executive director of Lifeshare’s north region, which encompasses Shreveport, Monroe and Texarkana.
Taylor came out of retirement recently to take over the spot vacated by former Beaumont Lifeshare executive director Debbie Madar, who retired this week after 21 years with Lifeshare, including 12 in Beaumont, to move to Houston to be closer to her family.
“She left big shoes to fill,” Taylor said. “Debbie did an outstanding job.”
Taylor said he has no plans on taking the job full time and will proceed in the interim capacity as long as he’s needed, adding that right now there is no timetable on when a new executive director will be named.
And Taylor’s first item of business is trying to get people to donate blood. According to Taylor, the center needs about “2,900 units” of blood each month to satisfy the hospitals in the area. A unit of blood is one pint.
“Weather has definitely had something to do with donations being down,” Taylor said, “and our O-negative blood, we have very few units of that. And that’s the kind of blood, in the case of an accident, hospitals will use that if they don’t have time to cross-match, so it’s very important that we get the word out to our community. It’s not just O-negative; almost all blood types are low.”
Taylor knows this area well and, traditionally, Beaumont has been strong about its donations, so the idea of the Beaumont center running low on blood donations seems foreign.
“This is unusual because we don’t normally have to go and do this,” Taylor said of reaching out to the public for blood donations. “It’s things like weather, beyond our control, that have happened and caused some of this.”
Taylor said the Beaumont Lifeshare location gets the bulk of its blood from both the drives, which include the large mobile units that travel throughout Southeast Texas, as well as the from those who go into the center and donate.
“We have very dedicated donors,” Taylor said.
He’s also encouraged by the young people, especially high school students, who have done well in giving blood when their schools have blood drives. “We had a blood drive at Kountze High School today, and we predicted 75 would donate and we had 78, so we’re very proud of our young people in the area,” Taylor said.
While all blood types are needed, Taylor said the O and B types are in dire need, so anyone with those blood types in asked to come in, spend 30-40 minutes and help save a life.
“Spend 30 minutes with us and you’ll save three to four lives,” Taylor said.
And if you can’t get to the Lifeshare Blood Center in Beaumont, which is located at 4305 Laurel, Taylor encourages calling (409) 838-5289 to find a local blood drive or where the mobile unit may be.
“This is your community blood center, so we need people to come on out, roll up your sleeves, and donate blood because you never know who’s going to need it.”