Public Relations Coordinator, Lifeline Blood Services
Story by Lyda Kay Ferree, The Southern Lifestyles Lady. Photography by Woody Woodard.
Cherie Parker, a native of Brownsville, Tennessee, has served as the Public Relations and Fundraising Coordinator for Lifeline Blood Services since 1995.
Ms. Parker received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1984.
She has been a member of the Jackson Old Hickory Rotary Club since 1995 and is a graduate of the WestStar Leadership Class of 1993.
She lives in Jackson and is the wife of James Parker, who is retired from the Department of Social Security. She is an active member of Woodland Baptist Church where she participates in the choir, Women’s Bible Studies and other activities.
Ms. Parker’s hobbies include painting, crafting, traveling, cooking and spending time with her family and friends.
“Every day someone needs blood. The only way it will be available is if others give it.”
— Cherie Hale Parker, Public Relations Coordinator, Lifeline Blood Services
VIP: When and why was Lifeline Blood Services established in Jackson, TN?
Cherie Parker: A local non-profit organization, Lifeline was established because our founder, Jack Smythe, was a young lab technician who realized that there was a need for an organization to collect and get blood to hospitals and clinics here in his hometown. At that time people were just beginning to investigate how blood products could be used and pioneering the world of blood banking: the collection, distribution, and transfusion of blood. Jack and Martha Smythe and fellow lab worker, Miss Ruby Warner, formed The Jackson Laboratory and Blood Bank in 1947, and it has evolved and grown into what we now know as Lifeline Blood Services.
VIP: How is your organization governed, and what is your mission?
CP: We are governed by a Board of Directors, and our mission is to provide safe blood products to the communities that we serve.
VIP: For whom does Lifeline Blood Services provide blood?
CP: 19 hospitals and 8 Air Evac helicopter units in the West Tennessee area.
VIP: What are some common misconceptions about blood and blood donation that you wish more people understood?
CP: A) That blood cannot be manufactured. It must come from a healthy volunteer blood donor. B) That blood donations have an expiration. C) That only 5% of those eligible choose to donate blood. D) 500 units are needed every week in West Tennessee.
VIP: What are the chief services provided by Lifeline?
CP: Primarily, we provide blood and blood products, which means red blood cells, platelets, and plasma to hospitals in West Tennessee.
Steps in the Blood Donation Process
You must bring a photo I.D. (Driver’s License) or two forms of alternate I.D. (Social Security card, voter registration, insurance card, etc.).
To determine your eligibility to donate blood, LIFELINE staff will check your temperature, blood pressure, iron level and pulse.
In a private booth, you will listen to a series of medical history questions and answer them. When you are finished, a staff member will review them with you.
In a comfortable, reclined chair, you will give blood. This only takes about 5-10 minutes.
You will be given a snack and something to drink. This will help you re-hydrate. After resting a few minutes, you are finished.
You just saved a life!
VIP: What is an apheresis donation? Why are more of these donations needed?
CP: Apheresis donations are specialized blood donations. Apheresis means to separate from the whole. In an apheresis donation a donor gives a higher concentration of a part of the blood like platelets or plasma. It takes longer than a regular blood donation because of the science and technology involved. The rest of the parts of the blood that the donor is giving are returned to the donor during the donation.
VIP: What are the general requirements for blood donors?
CP: Blood donors must be at least 17 years old, must weigh at least 110 pounds and have no prior history of heart disease or cancer other than minor skin cancer. If you have a question about blood donations, it is best to call the Lifeline Blood Services in advance. Many times prospective blood donors may be on maintenance medicine for cholesterol, blood pressure or diabetes, These medications are acceptable for someone to take and give blood as long as he or she meets the other donation requirements.
VIP: What is the biggest challenge your organization is facing?
CP: The recruitment of new blood donors-those who have never even tried to give blood. As most of our regular blood donors are well aware, we contact them all of the time. Although they are willing to give blood when they can, we are wearing them out. This is a serious issue. Since one may only give a regular (whole blood) donation every eight weeks, we need more people to donate at all times to make sure there is enough blood to meet the needs of hospital patients. In West Tennessee, that is approximately 460 units of blood each week, approximately 24,000 donations annually. In the U.S. a total of 14 million units are needed each year.
Many of us who once gave blood regularly have been deferred permanently because of cancer or other illnesses or conditions. That means we must replace donors who are turned away. The fact that only 5% of those who are eligible actually chose to give blood drives this truth home even more.
VIP: Please share your personal story of the importance of blood when you were ill.
CP: In 2009 I received three units of blood during emergency surgery to remove a cancerous tumor and one more unit of blood before I Left the hospital. January 29, 2019 marked my 10-year cancer survivor anniversary as well as the 10th year anniversary of blood donations that helped save my life. I am thankful that God used these precious blood donors and talented doctors to give me more years here on earth.
What to Know
Lifeline Blood Services
183 Sterling Farm Drive, Jackson, TN 38305
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 9am-6 pm
To provide safe blood products for the communities we serve.