Organizers of “The Big Give” blood drive June 8-10 at Congregation Beth Jacob termed the event a major success. LifeSouth Community Blood Centers calculated that enough blood was collected to save 693 lives.
Over the three days, 226 individuals donated blood. The donations included 221 pints of whole blood, which is used to treat trauma and emergency cases. Five people made “double red cell” donations of two pints each, giving blood that is particularly beneficial to people suffering from sickle cell anemia. According to LifeSouth, each pint of whole blood can save three lives and each double red donation six lives.
“A typical blood drive usually has about 10 to 25 donors, which is 30 to 75 lives saved. So, 693 is quite an amazing number and helps the local hospitals out tremendously,” Kyla Harris, district community development coordinator of LifeSouth, said. LifeSouth serves 125 hospitals in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.
The blood drive was organized by friends of Bev Saltzman Lewyn, an Atlantan who has been receiving treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in her hometown of Houston and continues to commute to the hospital from her parents’ home there. There is a national blood shortage, in particular of type O-negative blood (Lewyn’s type, found in 7 percent of the population), which is prized because it can be transfused into patients with other blood types.
The 54-year-old Saltzman went to unusual lengths to publicize the shortage — even doing a live interview with a Houston television station during chemotherapy infusion, with her phone balanced on the pole holding the intravenous drip.
Lewyn, on Facebook, said that she and her husband, Marc Lewyn, “can never thank enough our community, beloved Jewish institutions, the LifeSouth nurses, and most of all the tireless genius tzadeikis (holy women).”