KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Coming off the holiday season, local blood supplies are usually down, and unfortunately in high demand.

That’s why this week the call is going out for blood donations as we officially kick off MEDIC’s “Roll Up Your Sleeve Week.”

WATE 6 On Your Side is hosting a drive at its studios Wednesday afternoon.

Donating to MEDIC has come easy for Knoxville’s Neal Kelly.

“I’ve been donating here for over 20 years.”

Neal Kelly

Kelly attributes his decades run of donations to this woman, Nancy Seay, who one day had the courage to ask.

“She said, ‘have you ever given, when’s the last time?’ I said it’s been too long. She said, ‘why don’t you come down and see us?’ The next week, I came down and that was over 20 years ago.”

Neal Kelly

“You know, giving blood, it’s the easiest way in the world to help save a life.”

Nancy Seay – Former MEDIC Director

After almost four decades as a director at MEDIC, Seay recently retired from the post, but it doesn’t mean her desire to sing MEDIC’s praises has diminished.

“Extending lives, saving lives, giving people another year, another day with their families. I’ve always loved MEDIC. I love their mission… our vision.”

Nancy Seay

“Here regionally in East Tennessee, we serve 25 hospitals in 22 counties.”

Kristy Altman – MEDIC

Kristy Altman is the Director of Marketing and Recruitment for MEDIC.

“We see a lot of children with cancer… we see a lot of people who need transfusions regularly for various issues… traumatic car accidents… you just never know what’s going to happen.”

Kristy Altman

That’s why they need to keep MEDIC’s shelves stocked, it’s so important for so many.

“If something happened and we needed to send dozens of units to a hospital… what’s on our shelves right now is what we would be able to send. That’s why it is very important that as soon as you are eligible, you come back and see us as often as you can.”

Kristy Altman

A sentiment echoed by the members who work in MEDIC MEDIC’s Reference Lab, their job is to seek out matches for patients with rare blood types.

“Most blood centers have a reference laboratory, because we have the blood. We have the big cooler full of blood that we can screen and look for those rare units. That’s one thing how inventory effects us so much; if the overall inventory is low, it’s much more difficult for the reference lab to go into that cooler and say, ‘I need to screen 100 O-negatives to find this one unit.’ When you’re low it can be a real challenge.”

Tom Watkins – MEDIC Reference Lab

A challenge that donors like you, and Neal Kelly, can make a little bit easier.

“It’s a pretty simple way to make a donation, it’s a very personal donation too obviously, you feel good, you’re helping people.”

Neal Kelly

“Roll Up Your Sleeve Week” is going on right now, and blood drives are being held at 25 different Food City locations throughout our region, for times and locations, click here.

WATE 6 On Your Side is proud to host one of those blood drives.

Stop by the Greyston Manor on North Broadway on Wednesday, any time from 12 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to donate blood, and save a life.