UT Health executives and administrators were among the crowd gathered at the atrium of the pavilion building in Tyler on Tuesday with the mission of giving back to their communities by donating blood.

Carter BloodCare boosted its ongoing mission to keep a safe and sufficient blood supply on hand by hosting a blood drive. According to Linda Goelzer, director of Public Relations, the donations stay local and this is something the organization prioritizes.

Jacque Decker, manager of operations for Carter BloodCare, explained blood donations tend to drop over the holidays, so eligible donors are urgently needed to help reverse this seasonal trend.

Tracy Howard, revenue cycling representative at UT Health’s central billing office, donated blood on Tuesday due to the urgent need around the holidays.

Howard said she first started giving blood last year around this time of the year as a way to give back.

“We have a need for that in our community. We have people that are in accidents and things happen. We need to (donate blood). I think it’s our duty,” she said.

Those who donated blood Tuesday received a free long-sleeve T-shirt and were entered to win a brand new 2021 Chevrolet Spark, donated by Classic Chevrolet Fleet and Commercial. Also, those who donate from Dec. 1 to Dec. 31 will be eligible to receive a $10 Amazon gift card.

Tonny Labordus, who works in the infection control department at UT Health, also gave blood at the drive. He said although he may not need blood right now, he may need it someday, and said he would hope somebody else would donate if he were in a position of need.

In the unit he works in, Labordus said he’s given many units of blood to his patients.

“Every time I see O-negative, which is the blood type I have, I always wonder, ‘Could this possibly be the blood I’m giving,’” Labordus said.

Decker added there is also an urgent need for type O blood.

“Type O is in high demand because O-negative is the universal red cell donor, the only type able to give red cells to all other recipients, and O-positive red blood cells can be transfused to any positive blood type. Donations made today are ready for transfusion within 48 hours, yet that still leaves a limited reserve,” she said.

Labordus said to know his blood could possibly save the lives of others makes him feel proud to do what he’s doing.

“It’s extremely important, especially this time of the year. People will have, unfortunately, accidents, and there’s always accidents at Christmastime or Thanksgiving, the holidays, whether it’s car accidents, traumas, so they need blood and they need blood desperately,” he said.

Decker emphasized platelet donors are urgently needed this Friday through Sunday to prepare for and meet increased demand.

“We need platelet donors. We see a pattern for platelets every Thanksgiving. Oncology doctors maximize patient treatments before the long holiday weekend and, in a ripple effect, we have high demand and low availability of platelets the following week,” she said.

UT Health Tyler is the only Level 1 trauma for the region, where blood transfusions are all the more important.

The next blood drive at UT Health in Tyler will be on Thursday, Dec. 30 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointments are appreciated but walk-in donors are welcome.


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Bilingual Multimedia Journalist

I cover COVID-19 and health in the East Texas area for Tyler Morning Telegraph, the Longview News-Journal and Tyler Paper Español. Stephen F. Austin State University alumna. For story ideas, email me at rtorres@tylerpaper.com.