Quick Q & A: Lauran James 

Multicultural Marketing Director for Lifeblood

Gas isn't the only precious liquid in short supply after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The second largest medical district per capita in the country, the Memphis area needs about 300 units (or pints) of blood a day, about twice the national average. Memphis donors contribute half that amount, and up until recently, 20 percent came from the Gulf Coast. With that supply gone, Lauran James, Lifeblood's multicultural marketing director, looks for new veins to tap.

-- by Mary Cashiola

Flyer: What are you doing to lure new donors?

James: Every Sunday morning, I'm usually in two churches, spreading the message and basically dispelling myths. There are so many myths.

Such as?

Within the African-American community, medication is a type of myth. There are so many of us with high blood pressure and diabetes, and the myth is that if you have either one of those, you are unable to give. But the fact is you can.

The fear of needles is a huge myth. They're thinking that blood donation is this horribly painful procedure. But it's just a pinch, and before you know it, you're done.

Age is a myth. People like to tell you that they're too old. As long as you're 17, weigh at least 110 pounds, and are in reasonably good health, you are a candidate until you are 210.

Excuses abound. I often run into people who say, I gave 20 years ago. I think that's wonderful, but that one time won't do it.

The African-American community is using about 65 percent of the current blood supply, but we're only giving about 15 percent. So we are arduously, every day, seven days a week, trying to increase the donorship in this community.

How are you targeting African Americans? And why?

Our campaign in effect right now is called "Hope 4 Healing." It began with our "Sickle Cell Sweethearts" push. September was National Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month. Another myth is that our sickle-cell patients who must be transfused every few weeks can get blood from anyone. That is not true. The best blood for them is ethnically compatible blood because it contains three antigens that are necessary to promote health and increase the quality of life.

With the onset of "Sickle Cell Sweethearts" came the "Hope 4 Healing" campaign. It's our umbrella campaign, if you will. It's a pledge program, and we're asking members of the African-American community to donate six times over the next 12-month period.

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