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Press Release

Release Date: August 31, 2021
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

ADA, Okla. – As part of an intertribal competition, 35 area residents stopped by an Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) bloodmobile parked in front of the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center (CNMC) Aug. 20 to help address blood shortages in Oklahoma with their donations.

“When you have a challenge like this, people see it as an opportunity to help their tribe and community,” said Rachel Armstrong, a phlebotomist with OBI and Ada resident. “I know at a recent blood drive for the Chickasaws we met our goal, which is beautiful because here lately it has been a struggle to meet goals.”

Addressing Oklahoma’s blood needs is a cooperative effort, with people all over the state pitching in every day. More than 125,000 donors provide gifts of blood yearly for transfusion and associated clinical services.

According to OBI, someone needs blood every two seconds, yet less than 10% of those eligible to give blood do it.

“In order to stay where we need to be in Oklahoma, we need 1,500 units a day,” Armstrong said. “That’s 1,500 people all over the state of Oklahoma who would have to donate every single day to keep our blood supply up.”

The Chickasaw Nation continues to challenge citizens, employees and community members to give blood to benefit hospitals, health clinics and patients across the state.

Wanda Coody, a medical support technician at the CNMC, did her part and has a dedicated history of making blood donations. She has donated for more than 20 years, only taking a break while pregnant.

“I know there are a lot of people who need help and blood donations. I’ve always donated blood,” Coody said. “I just want to help everyone out there as much as I can. One day I might need blood, and, if so, I’d like to have that same help.”

She said a work email about the intertribal competition set her into motion this time around.

“I’m just glad I got to donate. Some people try and cannot, so I am just glad I can donate every time. There are needs out there, and I am O+. It’s always needed somewhere,” Coody said.

Chickasaw citizen and blood donor Mike McKee said it is a sense of shared altruism that keeps him donating.

“I’ve felt as human beings we should always have the mindset of helping others. Donating blood is one way of doing that,” he explained. “We never know what tomorrow will bring. It could be you, me or a family member that will need a helping hand someday. It's a comforting feeling to know that others would go to bat for us.”

Blood donations bolster the supply of safe blood available for transfusions, which is vital for public health. Critically ill persons, cancer patients, premature babies, surgery patients and emergency room patients are primary recipients.

Thanks to the intertribal blood drive challenge, members of the community are coming together to meet these heightened needs. The competition will continue until January 2022.

To make sure donations count toward the tribal competition, participants should notify their phlebotomist for which tribe they are donating. Any member of the public can donate on behalf of a participating tribe if attending a blood drive event.

While supplies last, participants will be able to choose a free ticket to the Oklahoma Science Museum, Frontier City or Safari Joe’s H20.

Neither previously having the COVID-19 virus nor getting the COVID-19 vaccination affects one’s ability to give blood, as long as the one donating is symptom-free and feeling well on the day of donation. Donations are allowed every 56 days as long as normal iron levels are maintained.

An eligibility hotline is available at (888) 308-3924 for anyone questioning whether they can safely donate.

During the ongoing pandemic, blood donation mobile drives and centers follow a stricter set of protocols, including mask-wearing and extra sanitation of workstations.

To schedule an appointment, contact OBI at (877) 340-8777 or visit OBI.org.

A full list of upcoming blood drive events is available at YourBloodInstitute.org/Donor/Schedules/Geo. This includes events at donation centers as well as mobile drives. For more information, visit Chickasaw.net/BloodDrive.