Amarillo VA Center holds blood drive to help local blood banks

·2 min read

Expanding its commitment to serve Texas Panhandle, the Amarillo Veterans Affairs Health Care System held a blood drive Friday afternoon at Thomas E. Creek Medical Center.

This and other blood drives across the nation are a part of the VA’s commitment to supporting the “fourth mission” needs of the nation. The need for blood reserves is an ongoing issue, since donated blood is only able to be stored for about 60 days.

According to its website, the VA’s “Fourth Mission” is to improve the nation’s preparedness for response to war, terrorism, national emergencies, and natural disasters by developing plans and taking actions to ensure continued service to veterans, as well as to support federal, state, and local emergency management, public health, safety and homeland security efforts.

Russel Sims gives blood during the VA blood drive at Thomas E Creek Medical Center Friday.
Russel Sims gives blood during the VA blood drive at Thomas E Creek Medical Center Friday.

Russel Sims, a 17-year Air Force veteran, spoke about his wanting to help his fellow man by giving blood at every opportunity.

"I feel that with the great need for blood, with all the natural disasters and just normal everyday accidents, I just want to do my part," Sims said.

Michael Quicksall stands by as he is being prepared to draw blood from at Thomas E. Creek Medical Center Friday afternoon.
Michael Quicksall stands by as he is being prepared to draw blood from at Thomas E. Creek Medical Center Friday afternoon.

Michael Quicksall, a five-year veteran who works with Veteran Affairs, also spoke about the benefit of giving blood.

"I am just trying to do the right thing," Quicksall said. "I give every time they ask."

Mark Rielo, associate director of VA Amarillo health care, leads by example at the VA blood drive at Thomas E. Creek Medical Center Friday afternoon.
Mark Rielo, associate director of VA Amarillo health care, leads by example at the VA blood drive at Thomas E. Creek Medical Center Friday afternoon.

Associate Director of the Amarillo VA Healthcare Mark Rielo advocated that with all the precautions in place, people should not be hesitant about giving blood and it's always a greatly needed resource.

"This is my first time giving blood since I came from California, and now that I am fully vaccinated, I feel very confident in the process," Rielo said. "With the pandemic still going on, this is the one other thing I can do to try to help those in need. I know this is going to go to someone else and possibly save a life. With the shortages going on, we should do what we can do to help."

Across the nation, there is a great need for blood donations, and with the short shelf life of blood there is a constant need to restock the supply. In a joint statement, both the American Red Cross and America's Blood Centers called the supply “dangerously low.” Currently, about 27 percent of supply centers only have a one-day supply of blood.

The Amarillo VA Health Care System regularly schedules blood drives to aid the community blood bank levels in the Texas Panhandle region.

This article originally appeared on Amarillo Globe-News: Amarillo VA Center holds blood drive to help local blood banks

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