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Southern Kentucky blood donors help replenish supply after tornado outbreak

Lisa Autry

A Tennesee-based blood bank is adding more drives in Bowling Green after a strong response following last weekend's tornado.

Blood Assurance is returning to TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital on Thursday, holding its fourth blood drive there this week.  Collections will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

On Friday, the Bowling Green Hot Rods will host Blood Assurance inside the Bowling Green Ballpark from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Walk-ins will be accepted, but donors are encouraged to schedule an appointment online.

Donating blood is one of many ways that Bowling Green residents are stepping up to help their neighbors recover from Saturday’s EF-3 tornado that killed at least 15 Warren County residents. 

Some braved the cold on Sunday and stood in line outside TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital to donate blood during Blood Assurance's first donation effort in the area following the tornado. 

Evesta Brown was inside one of two blood mobiles parked outside the hospital. She said she considers herself fortunate to have escaped the tornado unscathed.

“Very lucky," Brown told WKU Public Radio. "So many people have damage and lost lives, property. I just want to give back and help any way I can.”

Brown says donating blood is her way of helping Bowling Green recover while her husband works around the clock as a lineman restoring electricity. 

Credit Lisa Autry
Ethan White of Rockfield donated blood on Sunday, the day after a deadly tornado ripped through Bowling Green, killing 15.

Blood Assurance a regional non-profit based in Tennessee. Medical Director Dr. Ted Kieffer said that even before the recent tornado outbreak, the national supply of blood was “abysmal.”

“Holiday seasons are some of the more difficult seasons for blood collections," Kieffer explained. "People have a lot on their plate in general, but you add a holiday season on top of that, it takes a lot out of someone’s schedule and that leaves less time for blood donation.”

Dr. Kieffer said blood supplies have also been battered by the pandemic. He's worked in blood-banking since 2014 and says the current need for donations is the worst he’s experienced. 

“The supply has consistently been between one and two days, and often less than one day. That means we have enough to supply our hospitals one day, and if anything devastating happens like this, we’re out of blood," Kieffer said. "It’s terrifying.”

Credit Lisa Autry
Dr. Ted Kieffer is medical director of Chattanooga-based Blood Assurance which supplies hospitals in Kentucky and three other states.

Blood Assurance supplies 70 hospitals across Kentucky, and Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama with blood and blood components. Unlike national organizations like the Red Cross, the collections taken by Blood Assurance stay in local communities.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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