For the last five years, Sherman’s Melida Ailshire has spent her birthday at the Texoma Regional Blood Center. Since the blood center is generally low on all types of blood during the months of December, January and February, Ailshire said she likes to use her birthday as an opportunity to give back and invite her friends to donate blood.


During the winter months, the blood center sees less of its regular donors because they may not be feeling well and at the top of the year, many people have not gotten back in the swing of their regular activities, blood center Executive Director Stacy Braddock said.


“When Stacy came up with this idea, it just came together,” Ailshire said of holding a blood drive for her birthday. “I knew I could encourage my family, my friends, my neighbors and the people in the community to come and donate for my birthday. I am glad that I am a February baby because I came at a very good time. There are so many great amazing blood drives.”


Donating blood, Ailshire said, is one way that she feels connected to this community.


“It does not matter who you are, what you look like or what you do for a living,” she said. “We can all donate blood and we can all help each other.”


Justice of the Peace Rita Noel visited Ailshire’s blood drive Tuesday and made plans to give platelets on Wednesday. Noel said that in honor of the late Capt. Ricky Wheeler — who was a 25-year veteran of the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office that died of cancer in December — she will always donate platelets.


“He was receiving platelets as part of his cancer treatment,” Noel said. “It is very important to me because every time I give, I will remember him. We need blood everyday. There is someone that will need blood every day and these specialized blood drives are important. It’s very important that we donate.”


Noel said that for those that have never given blood before, the process is simple.


“Do not be scared,” she said. “The ladies here that take the blood do not hurt you. Before you know it, you have filled the bag. It is easy. You get cookies and juice afterwards.”


For Ailshire’s drive, those who gave blood received a piece of birthday cake.


Even though the center is still critically low on blood, Braddock said there has been an increase in blood donations over the last few weeks.


“It has been really helpful,” she said. “We have been having people who are not routine donors come in. The hospitals still use quite a bit everyday. We are just trying to play keep up.”


Donors can give blood every 56 days and donors can give platelets every seven days, up to 24 times a year. Donors must fill out a questionnaire and one of the most important questions, Braddock said, is about whether the donor is feeling well.


“We typically tell people that they can donate blood about 72 hours after they are feeling better,” she said. “That’s 72 hours without a fever and 72 hours off of any medications they may have been taking for their illness.”


For more information about whether you are eligible to donate, call 903-893-4313 or to schedule a blood drive, email bbarnard@texomablood.org.