UNION — As many as 72 lives may have been saved this past Friday during the “Restoring Carolina Blood Drive” hosted by the Union County Department of Juvenile Justice office.
Restoring Carolina is an event sponsored by DJJ offices in each of South Carolina’s 46 counties. Each DJJ office gets to choose what their event will be. The goal of the events is to to get the DJJ more involved with the community by doing something that will benefit the community.
For its Restoring Carolina event, the DJJ in Union County sponsored a blood drive this past Friday at its office at 200 South Mountain Street in downtown Union. The blood drive, which was held over the course of five hours on Friday, was a success according to Union County DJJ Director Ashley Campbell.
“We had 24 units (of blood) donated,” Campbell said Monday. “The Blood Connection’s goal for us was 22 units and we made 100 percent of our goal and more. They were very pleased. They want us to host another one.”
The event was organized by DJJ Probation Officer Whitney Emory who added that of the 24 people who donated blood Friday, 13 were first-time donors.
Campbell said that given the success of Friday’s blood drive, both in terms of the amount of blood donated and the turnout of first-time donors, her office will spnonsor another blood drive, probably after the first of the year.
Saving 72 Lives
While sponsored by the DJJ office, the blood drive was actually conducted by the “The Blood Connection,” which is described by its website (thebloodconnection.org) as largest independently managed, non-profit community blood center in the region.”
The website states that “someone needs a blood transfusion every two seconds, and one in ten patients entering a hospital will need blood. Over 500 people need to donate every day to meet the daily needs of the hospitals we serve and be prepared for emergencies. In order to collect the units needed, The Blood Connection must screen between 550-600 people a day for blood, platelet, plasma and double red cell units. Blood is good for only 42 days, so donors are needed every day to ensure a stable blood supply.”
To ensure that stable blood supply — and the saving of lives made possible by that supply — The Blood Connection relies on the support it receives from the community.
This is spelled out in a letter on the website from Delisa K. English, President and CEO of The Blood Connection, who writes that “more than 4.5 million lives are saved each year by a single, selfless act — donating blood. In fact, just one pint of blood can help save up to three lives. Every minute of every day, someone will need blood. Because of your support, The Blood Connection is able to make vital connections that save lives in our communities.”
Given that a single pint of blood can help save up to three lives, that means that the 24 units or pints of blood donated Friday could conceivably help to save as many as 72 lives. That means that the 24 people who donated blood Friday were literally giving the gift of life.
A Close Race
While 24 people donated blood Friday, Campbell said that 29 actually showed up to donate blood, but five were unable to do so because of various medical conditions.
Even though they did not get to donate blood, those five, along with the 24 donors, were nevertheless able to take part in the “Heroes Behind Badges” portion of the event.
Described by Emory as a “friendly rivalry” designed to encourage blood donation, Heroes Behind Badges allowed those taking part in the blood drive to state they were doing so in honor of either the Union County Sheriff’s Office or the Union Public Safety Department. Each agency was then awarded a point and the one with the most points at the end of the blood drive would win a prize.
Campbell said Monday that the race was tight with the Sheriff’s Office narrowly edging out the Public Safety Department 15-14. She said that the prize her office will present the Sheriff’s Office with will be announced at a later date.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.