Harsh winter has taken a toll on the local blood supply

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - As of today, Red Cross officials say the Southeast region is short by 30,000 units of blood, including more than 5,000 in Mississippi alone. That's why a blood drive held Wednesday morning at the Jeff Davis campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College took on added importance.

Weather is the main reason supplies are so depleted right now.

"Even just down here with all the ice storms almost a month ago now, we had to cancel every blood drive we had for three days, except for one that we had up in Hurley," explained Liz Gaulke, Director of Blood Services for the Red Cross.

The goal for this one blood drive is 110 units. Students at the college helped organize it. One of them is Danielle Johnson.

"Each donor can save three lives. So by doing that, we're not only helping each other to reach a common goal, we're helping other people so they can survive and have more birthdays, more anniversaries. And it's just a happy thing to do," Johnson said.

All who came to donate did so from the heart.

"I think it's very necessary for people to give blood because a lot of people can't give blood and there's a lot of people out there that really need the blood," Marc Sivori said.

"Just to help out other people that are in need," Bobby Jackson said of his decision to donate. "It feels good, it feels really good."

People who donate blood do so for various reasons, a sense of feeling, a sense of community, a sense of giving. For some though, the reason to give is extremely personal. Pat Nilson has donated six times a year for 30 years.

"Well, I work intensive care, and there's been times when you literally see people dying right in front of you and you're just waiting for the blood to come up from the lab. And it just makes a huge, huge difference if somebody can get that blood in," Nilson recalled.

Blood that truly is the gift of life.

The Red Cross is planning on hosting several other drives over the next few weeks to try and make up the shortfall. To find an upcoming blood drive near you, visit: http://www.redcross.org/blood

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