By Bradley Robertson

Over Christmas break, I tested positive for COVID-19 and was sick as a dog. I don’t quite know what that saying means, but I was sick. Sicker than I had ever been in my life. However, my body was able to fight the virus in bed and come around as a once again healthy human being.

As we all know, this has not held true for thousands of Americans. I am one of over 18 million recovered cases. I am not one of over 500 thousand deaths. I am the living statistic.

And as another saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility.” No clue where that quote is from, but it is a hard truth for all of us who are home and healthy today.

Life is a gift, and I believe we have a responsibility to use our health to save more lives, especially in a time as critical as today. One single act of giving can literally save the life of a neighbor.

I visited Lifesouth last week, next to EAMC, to donate my blood and get the scoop on donations. I was floored by the constant need in our community and the reality of how the giving saves lives right here in Lee County.

Photo contributed by Bradley Robertson

In 2020, Lifesouth fulfilled 100% of blood given to not only EAMC, but also EAMC Lanier, Lake Martin Community Hospital, Wellstar West Georgia Medical Center, Warm Springs Medical and Jack Hughston Memorial Hospital. That’s six facilities that count on me and you to help save trauma patients, cancer patients, other people with disease and your everyday COVID-19 patient.

Lifesouth sets itself apart in service by keeping all donations local. That means my blood, and yours too, saves a life right here in our area.

It also means that if EAMC needs 41 units of blood and can only receive 20 from Lifesouth due to low donor rates, then ultimately someone is at a loss. Someone is not receiving the blood they need to live.

I was able to clearly understand the need for blood and plasma after speaking with Maggie Blaedow, regional manager of Lifesouth. She says that donations are beginning to pick back up since the first shutdown last March, but it will take quite some time for the blood bank to be in a safe space for our community.

“We have definitely seen a decrease in our local community blood drives due to businesses closing and schools not letting others in, which means a significant decrease in our blood donations.”

There was also a decrease in foot traffic directly to Lifesouth, but it is beginning to pick back up.

One highly valuable bit of information is that there is a free COVID-19 antibody test run on every donor. Whether you donate blood, plasma or platelets, you will know within days if you have the COVID-19 antibodies.

This antibody test is what has prompted more and more locals to donate their plasma.

“Plasma has been one of the key treatments for patients who are hospitalized since Coronavirus hit,” says Blaedow. “Individuals who have had COVID and have the antibodies in their system, if they donate plasma, that plasma is then used to treat critically ill patients in the hospital.”

Blaedow told me that despite the hardships of COVID, the plasma donations have prompted new donors to come in who otherwise would not have.

“I think we have all felt really powerless during this pandemic, not sure where to go or what we can do to help. A lot of individuals just want to come and roll up their sleeve and help in some way that is safe … donating blood or plasma is certainly a way that you can help individuals.”

Plasma donations require an appointment at Lifesouth, but no appointment is necessary for blood donations.

If you are healthy and home today, here are the key ways you can safely serve your community and make a healthy impact on multiple lives.

Schedule a blood drive.

Visit Lifesouth and donate your blood. This saves three lives.

Schedule a Plasma donation at Lifesouth.

Visit the Bloodmobile next time you see it in your area.

Blaedow ended by saying, “anyone in the community who is interested in scheduling a blood drive with us, I strongly encourage you. Now is the time to reach out. We can do it at a church, a business, a school, a community event, and definitely help you make an impact on our community.”

Donate, friends. Get your free antibody test. Serve your community. One simple act can impact in a huge way.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 334-705-0884. The address of Lifesouth is 505 E. Thomason Circle, right next door to EAMC in Opelika.