Chatham community gives the gift of life

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PITTSBORO — Chatham County employees and residents rolled up their sleeves on April 13 to give the gift of life at the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center, with 37 lifesaving blood donations collected to help hospital patients in need.

The Chatham County Employee Blood Drive is held every April with the American Red Cross. This spring, it’s critically important the Red Cross maintains a readily available blood supply for patients. During National Volunteer Month in April, the Red Cross celebrates volunteer donors, who are the only source of blood, platelets and plasma for those in need. The Red Cross depends on volunteer donors to collect about 12,500 blood donations and nearly 3,000 platelet donations every day.

Volunteer donors included Chatham County resident Laurie Badone, who began donating while she was in college.

“There is a great need for blood, and I enjoy being able to help people with my donation,” said Badone. “I admit that I have a bit of a needle and blood phobia, but the Red Cross staff do an awesome job, and they always make me feel comfortable.”

The Red Cross blood supply remains vulnerable, and donated blood has a limited shelf life, so supplies must be continuously replenished to ensure sufficient inventory of blood products. With no substitute for blood and no way to manufacture it, volunteer donors are essential for hospital patients in need of transfusions. Patients need blood for a variety of reasons, including individuals who have experienced trauma, people fighting cancers and those with chronic illness like sickle cell disease.

Chatham County employee Jina Stamey donates blood in memory of her mom, who needed blood when she battled an illness.

“The blood my mom received was super important, and there’s a good chance she would not have lived as long as she did without it,” said Stamey. “I try to give as often as I can, because I know there are others like my mom who need it.”

In addition to donors, the Red Cross needs individuals to volunteer at blood drives. Blood Donor Ambassadors engage donors by greeting, registering, answering questions, providing information, and supporting them through the recovery process at the refreshments table. The special attention these volunteers provide helps create a favorable impression that encourages ongoing donor support.

Andrew Withrow is a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill. After donating blood for several years, he decided to get involved even more as a Blood Donor Ambassador.

“I feel like I have a responsibility to help others,” said Withrow. “Being a volunteer is just another way to be part of the blood donation process, and I really enjoy it.”

Information about blood donation and volunteer opportunities can be found by downloading the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.orgor calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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