Gwinnett County Sheriff Keybo Taylor has a simple message to residents of the county: give blood and convalescent plasma donations if you can.
Taylor, who is not able to give blood himself right now because of a medication he is taking, is one of three metro Atlanta sheriffs who are trying to raise awareness of the need for blood and convalescent plasma donations, particularly in the African-American community. The others are Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat and Cobb County Sheriff Craig Owen.
“My hope is that people will hear this message and feel a sense of importance and then go out and make this donation,” Taylor said.
Taylor, Labat and Owen each tested positive with COVID-19 last month after attending a Sheriff’s School, where it is believed they were exposed to the disease.
Convalescent plasma from people who have gotten, and then recovered from COVID-19 is particularly of importance to health officials during the pandemic. That is because those people are likely to have developed antibodies, that can be used to help people with the coronavirus disease fight it off, in their plasma.
“Myself, I’ve been stricken with COVID-19 so, in addition to raising awareness about the need for blood donations, we need to make sure people are aware convalescent blood plasma is needed right now, especially among people of color,” Taylor said.
Gwinnett’s sheriff also said the blood and plasma donations can also help in the minority communities to deal with medical issues such as sickle cell disease. He cited stats from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the prevalence of sickle cell anemia in the African-American community.
“For every 365 births, somebody is stricken with sickle cell,” Taylor said.
The American Red Cross and the NFL are offering an incentive to help entice blood and plasma donors this month. Anyone who donated blood or platelets this month will automatically be entered into a drawing for two tickets to attend Super Bowl LVI, which will be held in Los Angeles next year.
And, anyone who donates blood or platelets before Jan. 20 will be entered in a drawing for “Big Game at Home package,” which includes a 65-inch television and a $500 gift card to pay for food and game day viewing activities, to let people watch the Super Bowl from the safely of their own home.
“Blood and plasma donors who have recovered from COVID-19 may have the power to help critically ill patients currently battling the virus,” Red Cross medical director of clinical services Dr. Erin Goodhue said.
“With hospital distributions for convalescent plasma increasing about 250% since October, these generous donations are vital in helping to save lives throughout the winter — a time that is often challenging to collect enough blood products for those in need.”
Anyone interested in making an appointment to donate blood can do so at RedCrossBlood.org or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App or activating the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.
One location that is accepting blood donations daily is the Duluth Blood Donation Center, which is located at 3090 Premier Parkway in Duluth, although there are other upcoming blood drive events listed online as coming up around Gwinnett County this month.