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NATIONAL BLOOD DONOR MONTH BLOOD DRIVE AIMS TO HELP HOUSTONIANS

Community leaders band together to save lives

Community support is essential to saving lives in our region through both blood donations and STEM cell transplants.  

Additionally, January is National Blood Donor Month, and Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is celebrating all who take time to save lives. Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center needs about 1,000 donations a day to serve hospitals in our community and is collecting convalescent plasma from those who have recovered from COVID-19 to help patients battling severe symptoms of the virus.

That’s why Praise Chapel Houston is banding together with Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center and KTSU to host a Janice Weaver B-Day blood drive from 8 a.m-2 p.m. on Jan. 24 at 18516 Highway 3 in Webster. Weaver, Community Relations Director for Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, is a blood recipient herself. She now is leading the charge to recruit a diverse base of blood donors and people to join the Be the Match registry in efforts to save one Houstonian’s life.

Weaver pointed to Houston resident Action Thompson as an example of the need for more diverse donors. Thompson was diagnosed with blood cancer in July, and he needs a STEM cell transplant to save his life and others with the same diagnosis.  

“The transplant will give me a better chance at continuing life because, without the transplant, it’s not going to be very long before something happens,” Thompson said. “Remember, it’s not just about me. It’s about helping somebody else out in the world.”

However, Black and African American patients only have a 23% chance of finding a donor through the Be the Match registry. Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center partners with Be the Match through the Gulf Coast Bone Marrow Program. Be the Match maintains the national registry of potential blood stem cell donors.

“I want to educate individuals of their ability to save lives through giving the gift of life by giving blood,” Weaver said. “I am compelled to work with Be the Match to find a donor for Action Thompson to be a part of my birthday celebration after hearing the need for a specific match for him.”

Mayor Turner, the pastor of Praise Chapel and special guests will attend the event to support efforts to increase the amount blood donors and Be the Match registrations to keep Houston strong. 

Last year, thousands of blood drives were canceled amid the pandemic, affecting local donations. These cancellations are continuing into January as the community has seen a spike in coronavirus cases. Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center urges residents to make an appointment to give.  Blood cannot be manufactured. Healthy donors must voluntarily contribute to the blood supply.

Those interested in donating at the Jan. 24 event are asked to schedule an appointment at giveblood.org, and those interested in joining the Be the Match registry should text ACTION to 61474.

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is the sole provider of blood and blood components 24/7 to more than 170 hospitals and health care facilities in a 26-county Texas Gulf Coast region. Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is a nonprofit organization and is accredited by the Food and Drug Administration. For more information or to help save lives, visit giveblood.org.   

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