KBC keeps local blood supply flowing in the community

by Keith Taylor • Citizen Publisher
Jodi Whitaker is a regular blood donor Jodi Whitaker is a regular blood donor

The Kentucky Blood Center is all about saving lives and doing it locally.

All blood donated to the KBC is supplied strictly to more than 70 hospitals within the state of Kentucky, including CHI Saint Joseph’s Berea and Baptist Health Richmond. The organization boasts of eight total blood centers, with its main facility in Lexington and a consistent flow of mobile units at local businesses, community groups, schools and churches that host blood drives. There are eight donor centers spread throughout six cities that are open six days a week.

“Our mission is to collect blood, to process it, test it, and then distribute it to hospitals in the region,” said Eric Lindsey, director of media and branding at the KBC. “That is our function. Blood is a vital, vital part of the healthcare industry. “

According to Lindsey, 1 in 4 people will need a blood transfusion in their lifetime resulting from trauma, car accidents, gunshot wounds and cancer treatments. He added that blood also is used for routine surgeries, organ transplants, premature births and various diseases.

“You would be surprised when a medical official is trying to serve someone how often blood is used,” Lindsey said. “Hospitals are not in the business of collecting that blood. They rely on organizations like Kentucky Blood Center. They rely on blood banks to provide that blood they work with, folks like us. Our job is to make sure we are supplying that blood, so when they need it, it’s on their shelves and ready to save people’s lives.”

The recent snow storm that impacted the region last month underscored the importance of keeping the blood supply flowing.

“We need blood,” Lindsey said. “There is a real human being behind this generous time, that 45 minutes to an hour that you took with us. It’s not about helping Kentucky Blood Center, it’s about helping people in the community. It’s about helping everyday people. It’s an everyday need.”

Lindsey said Madison County is a “very, very loyal community” and one of the top donation counties in the state. Since the pandemic began, Lindsey said donors are split between giving at a center and through mobile access. He added the KBC does approximately 2,000 mobile drives per year.

“We are specific to Kentucky, this region,” Lindsey said. “We are your local blood bank. That blood is going to possibly help your family, a friend or a neighbor … it’s staying in the community, right down the street and that means something.”

Once blood has been donated and distributed, the donor is notified which hospital received the donation.

“People are constantly telling us they love that,” Lindsey said. “It tells me exactly where my blood goes … You want to know. You want to know who you’re helping.”

Jodi Whitaker has been a blood donor for 10 years and started giving after getting over being “terrified of needles.”

“For me, donating blood is about helping others,” she said. “The need for blood is constant. It’s easy to do, and it’s so critically important. I think about what would happen if someone I know and love needed blood and there was none available. What would happen? I do what I can to make sure that doesn’t happen to my loved ones, or to anyone else’s loved ones.

“Giving back is good for the soul. This is one simple way that most of us can do that.”

Lindsey said making the decision to donate blood is a “great decision to make.”

“When you donate blood with Kentucky Blood Center, it will stay local to help your neighbors,” Lindsey said. “Other organizations may collect blood to help patients, but that blood leaves our area.”

phil malicote