Community Heroes: Marsh Regional Blood Center employees focused on maintaining region’s blood supply

Community Heroes

(WJHL) — We frequently hear about the importance of the blood supply in our region. The people at Marsh Regional Blood Center take that responsibility very seriously and provide life-saving blood products every day.

It’s difficult to convince some people to give the gift of life and donate blood, even in normal times. During a pandemic, it’s worse.

“So, during the pandemic, it’s been even more of a challenge, because we’ve not had access to businesses and schools,” said Steffanie Sukel, director of Marsh Regional Blood Center. “Probably about 50% of our donor base we’ve not had access to. So, it’s been an extra challenge this past year.”

But the people at Marsh are focused every day on getting the blood supply needed to keep the Tri-Cities from a shortage. The need never stops, and there’s no substitute.

“So, we need about 120 units every day, regardless of what’s going on, regardless of the pandemic or life as usual,” Sukel said. “It just doesn’t stop.”

Sukel says it’s a team effort, from recruiters to phlebotomists to the processing staff.

“And, you might as well try to have a good time while you’re doing it. We try to make it a fun experience for the donors, a fun experience for the staff,” she said.

And while they have a good time, the managing staff makes sure team members know what they’re doing is life-saving.

“We emphasize the importance of what our team members do every day,” Sukel said. “It’s easy to forget, you know. You get up and go to the same job and do the same thing every day. You kind of get caught up in that, and forget what you’re really doing, so our leadership team makes it a point to say, ‘Thank you guys for everything that you do for Marsh and for the community.’ So, we really try to put that out there that what you do is important and you are saving lives.”

Each donor has their own reason for giving the gift of life. Sukel gets to hear those stories too and they can be pretty powerful.

“We actually had a firefighter that was there on 9/11, so him sharing his story, it just really brought it…to make it real.”

Sukel says hearing stories from the blood recipients is powerful, as well.

“How it helped them, how it made them feel better, how it saved their life. That’s definitely the best part,” she said.

For more information on how to donate, or hold a blood drive, go to https://marshblood.com/.

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