30th annual Donor Days comes during crucial time


Reporter- Briana Conner
Photographer- Justin Jones

PADUCAH, Ky.— American Red Cross workers and volunteers, some of them all the way from Nashville, set up for the 30th annual Donor Days in Paducah. It's the biggest blood donation drive in the area, and organizers said it couldn't come at a more crucial time.

Every summer, their donations drop by 20 percent, because they can't tap into educational sources like high school and college donors who regularly donate blood at school. The nation has also seen some serious disasters leading up to the summer like the Boston Marathon bombings and the tornadoes in Oklahoma. That kept the blood bank busy, while at the same time, 50,000 fewer people donated. That's why they call this an emergency, and it's a big part of the reason they did everything they could to get donors in the doors to give the gift of life.

Talking to customers is a big part of James Rogers job, but this week, there's a specific topic he wants to discuss. "I lost my dad a year ago in April," he said. His dad would have died a lot sooner without over 50 units of red, liquid life. "Pretty much the last two years of his life were borrowed time, because his bones quit producing blood," Rogers said.

His father relied on donations from volunteers. "Somewhere in this world, there's an O negative person who donated and gave my dad two years of life," Rogers said.
Tuesday afternoon at the Robert Cherry Civic Center, The American Red Cross set up everything they need to tack more years on to more lives. "It's vital," said Donor Recruitment Representative Anthony Tinin.

Depending on the kind of donation given, up to 22 bags of blood can fit in the blood transporters from 11 different donors saving up to 66 lives. But, without volunteer donations, the transporters will sit empty. "With the emergency situation that we're in right now, it's urgently important that people show up to give blood," Tinin said.

The Donor Days drive is their biggest push during their toughest time. Tinin said, "We have an opportunity for people to come in, work them through the process, hopefully get them on their way, and they leave feeling good." They leave knowing they've saved a life or simply given someone more time. "Go get stuck and give that gift," said Rogers.

This year's Donor Days kicks off tomorrow. They'll be at the civic center both Wednesday and Thursday from seven to seven. The Red Cross hopes to collect donations from 800-900 people. Donors are asked to set aside an hour of their time to give. The Red Cross will be giving out pizza, t-shirts, and car wash coupons. We'll be at the civic center in Paducah, and the Illinois Star Mall in Marion, Illinois. We'll be at both locations Wednesday and Thursday from seven to seven in Paducah, and two to six in Marion.