Give blood, win Gators tickets

The official blood center of Florida Gators athletics is looking to pack the stands in “The Swamp” for the season opener against the Florida Atlantic on Sept. 4.

LifeSouth Community Blood Centers opened a new center in Jonesville (14266 W. Newberry Rd.), and if you donate at that location, you could receive two tickets to the opening football game.

The promotion starts Tuesday and ends Saturday, but tickets are limited to the first 50 donors.

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Laura Bialeck, district community development coordinator for LifeSouth, said the organization wants to build awareness for the new center, the fourth in Alachua County.

Currently, the location averages four or five donors a day.

“If we bump it up during that five days to 10 per day, that would be fantastic,” Bialeck said in a phone interview.

She said the Jonesville location is more convenient for residents in west Alachua County where the population has grown, and LifeSouth wants donors and potential donors to know the option exists.

The increase in new housing in Jonesville and Newberry caused the Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton to open a new early voting center in the area.

Blood supply dropped to critical levels this summer, but Bialeck said the center currently has a sufficient supply, partly because hospitals have stopped elective surgeries.

“That has given us time to restock for right now,” Bialeck said. “So what we really need is a constant, consistent supply of donors each day.”

She said 100 donors a day would allow the center to safely maintain the blood supply to all the local hospitals.

Still, LifeSouth currently needs platelets, the part of the blood that helps with clotting. Donors can opt to only donate their platelets and keep their red blood cells.

Bialeck said the surge in COVID-19 remains a problem for the organization because companies are staying remote, making it difficult to host blood drives at business locations.

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