WLOX blood drive provides life line for recipients

The annual WLOX Blood Drive has been going on for at least four decades. It is one of the biggest of the year for the American Red Cross.
Published: Dec. 28, 2022 at 4:50 PM CST
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The annual WLOX Blood Drive has been going on for at least four decades.

It is one of the biggest of the year for the American Red Cross.

As a result of blood drives like this one, it gave the Branning family another Christmas with six-year-old Hendrix.

“He was about a week behind because that latest round of chemo really kicked his butt,” said his dad and Biloxi Police officer Justin Branning. “But when he came, home he was bouncing off the walls just being himself. Just being super goofy the entire time.”

Hendrix was diagnosed about six months ago with a rare, aggressive brain tumor and has been undergoing aggressive treatments in Birmingham, and he desperately needs blood.

“I think he’s gotten six blood transfusions so far over the last five rounds of chemo,” Branning said. “I think he’s at over a dozen - or right at a dozen - platelet transfusions alone just in the last couple of months since we started all this stuff.”

He knows how important efforts like the WLOX blood drive are.

“He wouldn’t be alive right now without all the blood, without all the transfusions he’s been getting,” Branning added. “And a lot of the hospitals get that blood from blood drives just like this.”

This drive is particularly important.

“This has a tremendous impact on the community - not only for the donors who are able to come out and give the gift of life,” said Deidre Johnson, American Red Cross account representative. “But also, for the patients that absolutely need it.”

Among those donors is Mary Long of Long Beach, who’s been giving since 1981.

“I’m glad they appreciate what we do,” she said. “And we do it for them and all the other recipients. It makes me feel good that I’m helping.”

Long said it takes just a little effort to make a big difference.

“Give it a try. It’s not scary. It doesn’t hurt. The people that take the blood are wonderful. They will ease any fears that you have. And you’re helping save three to four lives,” she said.

The blood drive continues at Edgewater Mall from noon until 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

The goal is to collect 182 pints.

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