Dracula is not the only one who wants your blood this Halloween.

Sparks Health System and the Arkansas Blood Institute (ABI) will host a blood drive from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 24 and 1:30 to 6 p.m., Friday, Oct. 25, in the Shuffield Education Center at Sparks Regional Medical Center on Towson Avenue in Fort Smith.

Regular blood donations are needed to maintain a safe and adequate blood supply for patients in our hospital and community. Both associate and public donations are encouraged.

Sparks CEO Charles Stewart would like to encourage the community to partner with us by giving an hour of your time to donate.  “It is important that we do our part as a community to ensure that Arkansas Blood Institute has an ample supply of blood products available when needed,” he said. 

According to ABI, every two seconds someone in America gets a blood transfusion and an estimated 5 million patients will need blood this year alone. Sparks hosts a blood drive every six to eight weeks with a goal of at least 75 units each time. More than 100 people are necessary to try to meet this goal.

“It is important to know that we will need more donors than that to actually meet these goals,” said Marcia Fletcher, Blood Program Consultant, ABI. “It is inevitable that some donors will not be able to give.”

Some donors may not be able to successfully donate if they are on certain medications, have a low grade fever or elevated blood pressure at the time. Last month’s blood drive garnered 62 units which barely helps meet the hospital’s monthly needs. 

“We give on average about 800-900 units a month to patients,” said Sharon Barr, Sparks administrative lab director.

Each unit can serve an average of four patients.

“If you give a unit of blood that can be used to also give components like platelets or Cryo (Cryoprecipitated Antihemophilic Factor),” Barr said.

The blood isn’t just used at Sparks, however. ABI provides blood products to hospitals in seven counties surrounding Fort Smith. All types of blood are needed year-round to fulfill the needs of patients in western Arkansas.

“There is never a slow season for the need of blood products,” Fletcher said. “We depend on all of our donors with all blood types to help the patients in our local hospitals.”

Those interested in donating blood on Oct. 24-25 can sign up in the Pastoral Care Office at Sparks or call (479) 441-5452. Donors must be at least 16 years old. Participants will get a free “Feel Proud” t-shirt or can choose to forgo the t-shirt and a donation will be made to the Global Blood Fund, an international charitable organization working with blood collection organizations in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Sparks Health System includes Sparks Regional Medical Center, Sparks Clinic, Sparks Home Health, Sparks PremierCare and the fully hospital-integrated Marvin Altman Fitness Center.  Summit Medical Center in Van Buren, Ark., is a sister facility of Sparks Health System.  For more information about Sparks Health System, visit www.SparksHealth.com.