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story.lead_photo.caption Liberty-Eylau High School junior Madison Smith winces Tuesday as Tanesha Gulley, team leader at Lifeshare Blood Centers, sticks her with a needle. Madison donated blood in the Rader Dome at L-EHS. Photo by Kelsi Brinkmeyer / Texarkana Gazette.

TEXARKANA — LifeShare Blood Centers held a blood drive at Liberty-Eylau High School Wednesday as part of its efforts to make up for an extremely low blood supply by visiting local high schools.

Drive Supervisor Tanesha Gulley said LifeShare has already had drives at high schools like Ashdown, Mineral Springs, Lafayette and Pleasant Grove. Linden-Kildare and Queen City are next on the docket.

This time of the year is always tough for LifeShare because, during cold and flu season, fewer people give blood, Galley said. Now the presence of COVID-19 is deterring the number of students who can give.

"Our shelves are bare right now," Gulley said. "Right now is the time that we go to local high schools, and high schools are our biggest blood suppliers. But at Liberty-Eylau, they have kids in quarantine that normally would be able to come and participate at the blood drive."

Not only at L-E High, but at every high school, few students on campus participate.

"That's been our biggest challenge," she said. "We went to Fouke last Friday and half the students are quarantined, so that drops us down to where, when we were going to get 80, now we're only getting 27."

Projections have been nearly cut in half. Usually LifeShare would expect anywhere from 100 to 130 donating students at L-E. Now it is about 70.

But there is some good news.

"What has helped us is people who have had the coronavirus are coming in now, and they're able to give their plasma once they've been symptom-free for 14 days," Gulley said. "So, they have those antibodies to where they can help the person that's now in the hospital going through the crisis."

LifeShare has tried a bevvy of different promotions to attract people to give blood. Gulley said they have largely been ineffective. But she hopes the community will unite to meet this need.

"Right now is the time for the community to come together," she said. "They're putting off selective surgeries and a lot of different things right now — surgeries that people are needing — because we don't have the blood to supply the hospitals.

"You could be giving someone another birthday."

And, for those afraid of the needle, Gulley said, there are now smaller ones.

"If you come in and you give, it's a welcoming feeling and a way of just giving back to your community," Gulley said. "It could be your mom, your dad or it could very well be the person you're standing beside that you save."

(To schedule an appointment or to find a blood drive online, visit lifeshare.org or call (903) 794-3173. LifeShare is located at 4020 Summerhill Road.)

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