LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Many Arkansans across the state are still battling with this year’s flu epidemic, affecting donor turnout at the Arkansas Blood Institute. Nearly two weeks ago there was concern about people not coming in, but things are starting to look up.

This was a packed Saturday for the group. Donors helped to fill the state's blood supply after so many regulars, churches and schools have had to sit out because of flu season.

“My blood is C and B negative, so I can give to babies,” said Michael Ragsdale. “A lot of our regular donors have had to cancel because they've had the flu or they're taking care of someone in their family who has the flu,” Executive Director Paulette Nieuwenhof added.

The Arkansas Blood Institute put a call out to the community for help and many answered.

"I work in the medical field so I know how important it is to give donations,” said Van Maltezo.

More than 25 donors spent some of their weekend helping to save lives.

"Today is Saturday and we have a full schedule. It's so heartwarming to see our donors come in to donate blood on a rainy day when they could be home,” Nieuwenhof said.

Although the institute is meeting hospital demands right now, keeping blood inventory stocked is still a concern. The group provides blood for all of central Arkansas and 42 hospitals across the state.

"I've had the flu, I had it in January. It took me about 30 days to get over it. And I have a friend whose sister died on Tuesday from the flu. There's a lot of sick people out there. I'm sure they need all the blood they can get everyday,” said Ragsdale.

Some donors give because of personal experiences, while others say it just makes them feel good to know they’re giving back.

"I wish more people would donate, but I understand some are squeamish about the needles. The needles aren't the smallest, but after the first stick its really no big deal,” Maltezo said.

There are a few requirements if you want to give blood:

  • Be healthy.
  • Be at least 16 years old, weigh 125 pounds and have parental consent.
  • If you're an adult, weight at least 115 pounds.