New Equipment Brings Hopes of More Blood Donations in South Georgia

For 22-year-old J.E. Witherspoon, it's as routine as brushing your teeth or putting on socks in the morning. Every two weeks, J.E. donates his platelets. He's a paramedic who knows firsthand about the lives he's saving.

J.E. says, "Every day we have people coming in with cancer and one of the things you learn is people with cancer who go through chemotherapy and radiation is it destroys their platelet count."

But those patients need more donors like J.E. to give the "first responders" what they need to survive, and some new platelet donation technology could do the trick to boost those donations.

Blood services officials say they're hoping the new equipment will encourage folks to get in here and donate platelets since the new procedure is less invasive.

Robbin Miller of the American Red Cross Blood Services, says, "A lot of people don't have good veins in both sides, and so you had to have an access and a return arm. With the new machines, they do both the access and return in the same arm."

Here's the million-dollar question: how bad will the donation hurt?

Witherspoon says, "The initial five second needle in your arm, you know, it does hurt; I won't lie about that."

But donors say it's worth the slight discomfort knowing you're saving lives. The American Red Cross blood services in Valdosta will hold a blood and platelet donation drive the first week in June to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.