Founded in 1974, LifeSouth Community Blood Centers is a non-profit blood bank. LifeSouth serves more than 100 hospitals in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia. As a community project, all the blood that is collected stays within the community to meet the needs of local hospitals. It is only once the local needs have been met that the organization can consider sharing the blood supplies with other blood centers within the country that might be shorthanded. One of the main achievements of this drive is to reduce the likelihood of blood shortages during holidays or in the event of emergencies.
There are two affiliates and foundations run by the organization, namely LifeCord and Five Points of Life. LifeCord is a community-based blood bank collecting and storing blood from umbilical cords. These are useful for research on stem cell transplantation and in clinical cures. They also educate the community on matters concerning blood donation, collection, and processing of umbilical cord blood, distributing the blood units and evaluating the outcome of transplants.
Five Points of Life, on the other hand, is a charitable organization. Their mandate is to educate the population and create awareness on the 5 important ways of sharing life with those in need through blood donation. These are through the donation of:
- Cord blood
- Organs and Tissues
The LifeSouth affiliates and foundations work closely with organ procurement organizations, blood centers, marrow registries and community organizations to sensitize the community about donation. It takes almost a year from the moment your plasma is successfully donated, through production to the moment it is made available to patients under plasma therapy.
If I am not eligible to donate blood at LifeSouth, can I donate plasma?
The FDA guidelines for blood donation and plasma donation are more or less the same. In most cases, if you are unfit to donate either, you will be ineligible for both of them. There are, however, rare situations where you might be an eligible plasma donor even if you are not allowed to donate blood. There are tests that will be carried out to ascertain your eligibility situation.
Are all plasma the same? This is not true. Plasma is unique in the types and amount of antibodies that they contain. As a donor, if your blood plasma has generous quantities of specific unique antibodies, you might be considered a special donor. There are also individuals whose blood types are unique, making them special donors. Each donation center takes note of such unique blood types, and they even have special loyalty programs for these individuals.
Is it safe to donate at LifeSouth?
Yes, it is safe. There are thousands of people who have donated blood over the years. The procedure for blood and plasma donation might be slightly different, but the health checks and balances are still similar. Sterile single-use equipment is used in both cases, handled by professionally trained people. The medical staff is trained to make sure you are safe, comfortable and at ease throughout this process.
Given that blood donation at LifeSouth is a low-risk procedure, there are minimal or no side effects associated with this process at all. Donors are given instructions and information on the process of plasmapheresis to enlighten them and raise awareness. The medical staff will also discuss some of the risks and adverse reactions with you based on your medical history.
What to expect from the health screening at LifeSouth
A small blood sample will be taken from your fingers. Your vital signs will be checked and you will fill a questionnaire, to make sure you are healthy and safe to donate. If you have, for one reason or the other, been disqualified from donating blood or plasma, you are referred to as a deferred donor. Prospective donors can be deferred at any time. Permanent or temporary deferment will depend on the main reason for your disqualification.
If you are permanently deferred, you will never legally donate plasma in your lifetime. Temporarily deferred donors will have their names on a deferral registry. They cannot donate blood until after a certain period has lapsed. From there, they can visit the donation center, pass the necessary tests and become eligible donors.
What happens when one of my LifeSouth screening tests is positive?
If your tests are positive for any viruses, you will be referred to a clinic or a physician to provide a formal medical diagnosis, testing and recommend treatment. You will also be permanently deferred and excluded from donating blood or plasma. Your details are also added to the National Donor Deferral Registry.