Blood Assurance is opening up a new blood bank in downtown Athens March 27. While there is a great need for blood donations across the Tennessee Valley, some worry this blood bank will hurt rather than help the donations that directly benefit hospitals in McMinn County.
"That will be our 16th center throughout our five state region," said Charlie Callari, VP Marketing, Blood Assurance. "We are very excited that we can afford the people that live in that area the chance to donate with us."
The new center is a first for Blood Assurance in Athens. Another blood center, called Medic, currently uses six mobile blood centers there. Medic officials tell Channel 3, that they're worried the competition will confuse donors about where the blood goes.
"It's definitely a concern for us, maybe people will donate downtown in Athens and use a different blood center and that's what we are worried about because we have a medical, moral obligation and agreement with Starr Regional Medical Center to provide them with blood," said Benjamin Prijatel, Medic Spokesperson.
Medic needs about 36 donors in McMinn County per day to keep the two Star Regional Medical Hospitals stocked. On average the blood bank provides both Starr Regional Medical Centers with 110 units of blood each month.
"If folks in this community don't donate with us and they go somewhere else that unit goes somewhere else," said Prijatel. "We're going to have to find blood from somewhere."
Blood Assurance is also in need. Callari says their Blood Assurance centers need at least 540 donors each day to have enough for the 75 regional hospitals, the blood bank services.
"Giving the gift of life there is really no other form of selflessness," said Callari. "People in that area are already coming to this area for medical serves, so they are helping out those folks and it's upwards of 25 percent of people in that area already coming to this area. It's all about giving, you donate once you can save up to 3 lives and that's what it is all about."
Cindy Pare knows all too well how important donations can be, her father diagnosed with cancer was given 3-4 months to live back in 2011.
Blood donations prolonged his life by 29 months. On the anniversary of his death, Cindy encourages others to donate where there is a need. She shares her story and makes snacks for others saving a life through blood donations.
"At the end of his life he would tell everyone he loved them, they walked into the room and he'd say, ' I love you ' I'm proud to be his daughter and I'm happy I'm doing him proud by this today."
Blood Assurance officials tell Channel 3 they would like to pursue a business relationship with McMinn County hospitals in the future.
Officials with Starr Regional Medical Center tell us they intend to honor the existing contract with Medic. Officials on both side of the issue encourage everyone to donate blood and save a life.