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Press Release

Release Date: September 28, 2022
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

The second Tribal Blood Drive Challenge is underway in Oklahoma to assist with the statewide blood shortage. The Chickasaw Nation is collaborating with the Choctaw Nation, Muscogee Nation and the Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) in a challenge to encourage their citizens, employees and communities to donate blood through Jan. 31, 2023. 

A full list of Chickasaw Nation tribal blood drive events is available at Chickasaw.net/BloodDrive. 

“They [2021 Tribal Blood Drive Challenge] made a huge difference in our blood supply! We have struggled with collections especially during COVID. We are still struggling, and we feel this challenge will help increase our collections and blood drives,” said OBI Blood Program Consultant Michelle McGuire. 

The OBI is the main supplier of blood products for Chickasaw Nation Department of Health facilities, as well as 90% of hospitals and clinics in the state of Oklahoma. The blood drive campaign is in response to the shortages in Oklahoma, North Texas and Arkansas areas. 

“For the first time, donations are down to an extent that has truly impacted the supply. We have lost access to most businesses, lost face-to-face engagement and schools were shut down. These face-to-face opportunities allowed us to build a relationship which encouraged participation,” said OBI Executive Director Susan Crews. “In 2020, the number of surgeries that were performed decreased because of COVID-19, and donations slowed down because of the same reason. When surgery levels returned to normal or near normal, blood donations did not rise to the same rate. Even now, people are not donating the way that they used to.” 

The donations last year made a vast difference in many lives. The need for blood donations is common among patients in various situations, such as terminal illnesses like cancer and bladder, kidney, heart diseases and more. 

“People with cancer often use blood and platelets, as well as babies in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) on extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), accident victims, shooting victims and surgery patients. For those who may not know, our Air Evac helicopters have O- units in the event the patient needs blood when being transported to another facility,” said McGuire. 

According to OBI, one donation can save up to three lives. They remind donors the process is simple and virtually painless. It takes less than an hour to donate. 

“I do not always have such an awesome opportunity to impact three lives with my one donation. I may be participating in saving the life of someone’s child, grandfather or premature baby. It does not hurt me to give, and I take care of myself on the day that I give so I feel well,” said Dr. Judy Goforth Parker, commissioner of health policy for the Chickasaw Nation. “If you are considering donating, I would say thank you and do it! After you get past that first time experience, you realize it does not hurt, and it makes you feel good that you are helping.” 

There are some patients with rare blood types such as A- or AB-. These blood types are difficult to find and keep in supply. Donors with rare blood types are especially encouraged to donate. 

“I donate to not only save a life but to extend a life. To give someone an extra day is a gift that can’t be bought, or an extra birthday, or a long life,” said McGuire. “When I donate blood, I know that someone is waiting on that unit and, on some occasions, many units for that blood. It’s our civil duty to help our community and no one can do that for us. You never know whose life you are going to impact.” 

The 2021 Tribal Blood Drive Challenge saved 2,169 lives with 723 donors and 566 products supplied to the Chickasaw Nation medical care facilities. The Chickasaw Nation was the winner of the 2021 Tribal Blood Drive Challenge, winning by the overall number of products supplied and percentages of increase over a certain time frame. 

The 2022 Tribal Blood Drive Challenge winner will be determined by how many people attend each individual blood drive, based on what the tribe’s goal is, and if they are meeting or exceeding that goal each time. 

Donors will receive a themed T-shirt and their choice of one ticket to Science Museum Oklahoma, Frontier City theme park or two tickets to Safari Joe’s H2O water park. Additionally, donors receive a coupon for 50% off any 20-ounce shake to be redeemed at Tushka Fit, the Ada Wellness Center or The Hub Bistro in the Carl Albert Service Center. 

“We are so grateful for your lifesaving blood donation! You make a difference! We ask that you eat well before donating and drink plenty of fluids,” said McGuire. 

For more information about OBI, visit OBI.org or call OBI at (580) 453-6800.

For more information, visit Chickasaw.net/BloodDrive