By noon Friday, as many as 59 people had donated blood in Zachary during the Mardi Gras-themed drive hosted by Lane Regional Medical Center and United Blood Services.

All donors received a free Mardi Gras T-shirt — while supplies lasted — and were entered to win a $150 Visa gift card.

All blood types were given, according to UBS Donor Recruitment Manager Jason Conner.

“Whole blood, double red cell, platelet and plasma are given and extracted through a few different methods,” Conner said, explaining that type O negative blood is the only type that can be safely given to patients of all blood types, and type AB is the universal donor for plasma, just as O negative is for red cells.

Though January is National Blood Donor Month, it and February are typically the slowest months for blood collection across the country.

“That’s because people are busy. They’re getting back into the swing of things after the holidays, kids are returning to school, people are just busier,” Conner said.

Found in communities in 18 states, United Blood Services has three main offices in Louisiana — Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Morgan City, with 11 drawing centers scattered throughout the state.

A team of UBS representatives work to coordinate blood drives with businesses, churches, schools and hospitals, such as at Lane RMC in Zachary.

“Based on history, the different areas know how much blood they need,” Conner said, adding that a need for AB plasma has grown as more hospitals expand their trauma care.

An added bonus in giving blood through UBS, is that it stays in the community where its donated.

“Blood drawn today can be used to save someone here in Zachary by the weekend,” Conner said.

Prior to any blood donation, a health history is taken and used to determined that it’s safe for the donor to give blood and that his or her blood is safe to give to others.

Several of the donors who gave blood on Friday were employees of Lane RMC.

For information about donating blood, visit unitedbloodservices.org or learn how you can be a blood hero by calling (877) 827-4376.