Hilton Head grocery grab underscores need for holiday blood donations

tbarton@islandpacket.comNovember 22, 2011 

Twenty-year-old Brandon Deloach scouted the store hours earlier, planning his route: Meat -- lots of it -- then laundry detergent, then snacks and soda.

No turkey. His mother already has plenty for Thursday.

"Go for the steak," his mother, Cindy Deloach, shouted as her son raced around the Piggly Wiggly on Lagoon Road. Her son's three-minute "grocery grab" Tuesday was sponsored by the store and the Blood Alliance.

Brandon, a junior at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, has been giving blood since high school. The former Eagle Scout and Hilton Head Island resident walked into the alliance's mobile blood drive Sunday at the grocery store, not knowing he would be entered into a drawing for the giveaway.

"Does the three minutes include time for checkout?" joked store owner David Martin, who teamed last year with the Blood Alliance to entice donations during the holidays.

"I didn't know it would be a 20-year-old. I thought it would be a 60-year-old man with a bad hip," Martin kidded as a checker rang up $56 in frozen Alaskan king crab legs, followed by chicken wings, ribs, steak and ham. In three minutes, Brandon racked up a $368 bill.

There were some limitations: No alcohol, tobacco products, lottery tickets or greeting cards, and only one cart and one item of each product.

The Blood Alliance provides blood to more than 40 hospitals and medical facilities in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina and is the sole supplier for Beaufort County. The alliance must collect blood from more than 360 donors every day to meet the needs of area hospitals, according to public relations manager Odette Struys.

"If donors gave two times per year, blood shortages would be prevented," Struys said.

The nonprofit community blood bank has been using the giveaways to encourage donations during the holidays, which decline as people travel and become busy with family activities, she said.

"The need for blood is constant and doesn't pause for the holidays. By taking time to donate this winter, people are helping local patients and fellow neighbors," Struys said. "We also see demand go up this time of year, as there's a tendency for more accidents with more people out and about on the road."

All blood types are needed to help maintain a sufficient blood supply, especially from those with type O negative blood, like Brandon. The blood type is always in high demand because it can be transfused to patients with any blood type.

"It's an easy way to help out the community," Brandon said. "It takes five minutes to give. And you never know when you might be helping save the life of someone you know."

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead

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