Officials at Lansing Correctional Facility are preparing to roll up their sleeves for their annual blood drive, one of the largest in the area.


Officials at Lansing Correctional Facility are preparing to roll up their sleeves for their annual blood drive, one of the largest in the area.

This year, they’ll have a special mission — to help fight a blood shortage that spurred a recent appeal from the American Red Cross .

Jim Collins, special projects coordinator for LCF, said the drive at LCF is nothing new. He’s been in charge of the effort for the last five or six years and has successfully worked to increase participation.

“Each blood drive, we’ve been increasing our numbers,” Collins said.

He’s putting some extra effort into it this year, because of the news that the American Red Cross is at “emergency” levels when it comes to blood. A release from the organization states that it received about 50,000 fewer units of blood than expected in June alone. It’s the lowest the supply has been in 15 years and leaves about half the available supply as was on-hand at the same time a year ago.

The release blames summer storms that forced the cancellation of a number of blood drives, while extreme heat has depressed donor turnout at others.

About 70 people typically sign up for the LCF blood drive, Collins said, resulting in about 55 to 60 eligible donors and roughly 60 pints of blood. He said it’s a point of pride for him, being one of the highest yielding drives among similar organizations like the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, the Corrections Corporation of America facility in Leavenworth and Fort Leavenworth.

“My connection with the Red Cross says that we just smoke everybody,” Collins said.

It’s also a mission with a personal connection — he said his father relied on regular blood transfusions before he passed away.

“We probably had dad an extra year because of the generosity of people,” Collins said.

LCF’s annual Red Cross Summer Blood Drive is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 16 at LCF. Though mainly employees sign up, Collins said the drive is open to the public.

“Basically, if they dress appropriately and they have a photo ID, they can sign up,” he said.

Collins is the organizer for the drive and can be contacted at 913-727-3235, ext. 57351 for those wishing to set up an appointment. Those who meet the criteria — meaning those at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good heath — can also call 1-800-733-2767 or visit to make an appointment to donate.

With 17,000 pints needed each day to meet ongoing needs, that appointment could prevent the kind of shortfalls that can affect patients.

“In a worst case scenario, a physician may have to forego performing a more serious procedure for a patient because of a shortage of blood. We need to do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t get to that point,” said Dr. Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer for the American Red Cross, in a release.