BROOKSVILLE — Margaret Harbert of Heritage Pines was lying back on a couch, but was busy helping to save lives by donating blood on Nov. 14 at LifeSouth on Cortez Boulevard.

“I come as often as I can,” she said. “Every two months or so.”

Harbert said she likes the environment, and “they like my blood,” she added with a laugh.

Other blood donors were giving blood or platelets and relaxing by reading or watching TV as staff watched them or prepared others to donate at LifeSouth’s location on Cortez Boulevard in Brooksville.

Outside, a large tent was set up with food, drinks, T-shirts, gifts and a music player blasting “yacht rock” while staff, visitors and more donors socialized in the shade.

Marisa Pacchiarotti, the district community development coordinator for LifeSouth in Hernando County, helped set up the tent and the buffet, and then stopped to talk for a bit.

“It is celebrating our 35th anniversary here in Hernando County, which is wonderful because I think it’s an accomplishment for any business to make it that far, in today’s day and age, but what is particularly impressive is that this business only exists because of the community,” she said. “You can’t have a blood bank without blood donors. We’re kind of the middleman to help the community supply itself. We’re trying to celebrate and also say ‘Thank you’ to the community and let them know, ‘Look what you helped us do.’”

The demand for blood is growing in the country as more and more patients need blood for medical procedures, she said.

Ken Wicker, chief executive of HCA Florida Oak Hill Hospital, said LifeSouth’s policy of supplying local hospitals helps Oak Hill care for its patients.

“We actually use a fair amount of their product,” Wicker said. “They’re the sole community provider for us,” adding that hospital employees donate blood, too, in drives that take place at the hospital.

“We see 200 people a day in our ER, so probably a third of those need blood, some type of product from LifeSouth,” he said. “It could be even for one of us here, any given day.”

That could be platelets, blood or plasma, he added.

Anne Keady of Weeki Wachee has been donating blood for a couple of years, and started donating platelets in June. “Platelets are for cancer patients and the difference is, with blood, whole blood can last 56 days, but you can only donate every eight weeks,” she said. “With platelets, I think you can donate 24 times a year and platelets only have a five-day shelf life.”

The process is a little more involved than just giving blood, she said, adding the staff member Keady has worked with has been “great.”

Kimberly Kinsell, the president and chief executive of LifeSouth, congratulated some local donors who have given blood over the past years. Kinsell was one of several LifeSouth people who came down from Gainesville to celebrate the facility in Hernando County.

“The reason that we can service the hospitals here in Hernando County is because of our blood donors,” she said. “It’s important to remember that we have been a part of this community for 35 years, so when blood donors come and they donate here or in one of our bloodmobiles, that blood stays in the community and goes to the local patients in the community.”