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“I’ve been given my life back:” Kristen Odom’s Story

“I’ve been given my life back:” Kristen Odom’s Story

Because 25 Blood Donors Gave Her Life

You can tell from her smile that Kristen Odom is full of joy. Just talk to her for 30 seconds, and you’ll find that joy stems from her overwhelming gratitude. She’s happily married with an adorable 2-year-old, Caroline, and loves her job teaching at a local school. Sure, that’s a lot to be thankful for…no wonder she’s so happy!

But talk to her a little bit longer, and it’s clear there’s a reason for that abundant thankfulness. Almost 2 years ago, Odom had complications after her daughter’s delivery. Odom was only able to hold her beautiful newborn baby for several minutes, before she started feeling dizzy. Seconds later, she was whisked away to an operating room with no explanation.

“Everything was super easy, non dramatic, up until it was not.”

Turns out, Odom had been bleeding internally for a while. She had lost a lot of blood. After racing her to the operating room, doctors at St. Francis Eastside immediately started blood transfusions to save her life. All in all, she received more than 25 units of red cells, platelets, and plasma. Those products came from donors with The Blood Connection, the primary blood supplier for the St. Francis-Bon Secours hospital system.

Odom’s husband and brand new dad waited for hours for a head nod from doctors that she was ok. Finally, four hours later…some good news. Doctors had found the source of the bleed and were able to completely replenish Odom’s body with blood products. Once the shock of everything wore off, both Odom and her husband realized that local blood donors had saved her life.

“I would not be here today if that [blood products] wasn’t there…I know that it was because about 25 people donated blood, it saved my life,” said Odom. “I needed so much of it…it was there because there was enough…I’ve been given my life back.”

So yes, Odom and her husband, Brent, are the stop-and-smell-the-roses kind of couple. They understand true gratitude because it lives and breathes in the form of their daughter.

“I often think about it in the little things like we celebrate her birthday, it’s a pretty day outside, or we’re at the beach…this day I get to enjoy because somebody donated blood. I had this overwhelming sense of gratitude…it just still shocks me to this day…here we are, living a completely normal life…because blood was available and they did what they needed to do right away.”

Watching Caroline grow up (too fast) reminds Brent Odom of the moment he thought he might have to raise her alone.

“I remember sitting in the NICU with Caroline that evening…and just remember praying, Lord, I can’t do this alone, so I’m just so thankful that she’s [his wife] here today, because of donors.”

As an O-Negative donor, Brent is now committed to donating blood every time he’s eligible, every 56 days. It’s his way of paying it forward.

Now the Odoms are using their story of survival to spread the message about blood donation. They’re reminded of it when they’re chasing little Caroline around in their quaint Taylors, SC neighborhood or singing Caroline’s favorite song, “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round,” over and over again. That contagious song may never get out of their heads, and neither will their appreciation for every local blood donor.

Blood donors have the chance to do what others did for the Odoms, every day. Step on a donation bus or into a TBC center and that opportunity awaits.

TBC is here to answer any questions about donating blood. Click here to find a list of center locations and here for a list of upcoming blood drives in the Upstate. To those who already donate, thank you for spreading the love throughout your community! We hope you enjoy a peek into the life of the Odom family below.

Lyman teen and pageant queen shines as blood drive host and donor

Lyman teen and pageant queen shines as blood drive host and donor

Hailey Greer shines on and off the pageant stage 

Miss River City Teen turns passion for blood donation into platform, donates blood for the first time on her 16th birthday

16-year-old Hailey Greer spent her sweet sixteen at the Blood Connection Donation Center in Spartanburg, giving back to her community. It’s not what you might expect from a high-schooler, but it’s no surprise for those who know Hailey. Some know her as the current Miss River City Teen or former Miss Powdersville. With a few pageant wins under her belt, she’s now in the running to become Miss South Carolina Teen, where a lot more people with get to know her and what she stands for. Hailey is using her contagious smile to spread the word about blood donation, making it her personal platform for Miss South Carolina.

Hailey started hosting drives when she was just a freshman at Byrnes High School. Her mother’s touching story is what drives Hailey to tell others about the life-saving power of blood donation. Her mother lost about half of her blood volume after Hailey was born. Since Hailey knows blood donations saved her mother’s life, she wants to help do that for others in her community. And when she started asking questions to her friends and family, she realized a lot of people around her have needed blood too. Doing her own research about blood transfusions fueled the fire, and she began encouraging her friends to donate at school. 

“Just telling them [students] how much their blood can help somebody is normally what does it for them. And by giving blood, they feel like they have a purpose.”

Hailey has hosted almost 10 blood drives (and counting) with The Blood Connection, starting way before she was old enough to donate blood herself. Hailey donated for the first time with TBC at the Spartanburg Center on her birthday on May 19th, surrounded by her friends and family. She’s now in the club of local lifesavers!

TBC is grateful for Hailey’s selfless dedication to her community and passion to serve as a blood drive host. She is truly an inspiration, juggling her school work, dance team practices, preparation for pageants, and learning how to drive, yet still making time to serve her community. Making connections in the community is what TBC is all about. Hailey is the perfect example of a caring connector, who has not only affected the lives of many local blood recipients but their families too. Soon she’ll be able to add “lifesaver” next to the long list of her titles. TBC wishes Hailey the best of luck at the Miss SC Teen pageant! 

WYFF Channel 4 shared Hailey’s beautiful story as part of its Project CommUNITY series. Check it out!

The Spartanburg Donation Center is located at 270 N Grove Medical Park Dr. It’s open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m on the weekends. Blood donors must be healthy, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be 17 years old or 16 with written parental consent. Photo ID required. To reduce donation time, donors can make an appointment in advance.

Check out the TBC High School Program, which awards students like Hailey who are impacting their communities through blood donation and hosting blood drives.

300th Donation: Danny Howard

300th Donation: Danny Howard

Loyal donor gives for the 300th time

Yep, 300 times…that’s dedication. 

The Blood Connection is proud to celebrate Danny Howard as a loyal donor, who donated for the 300th time on May 1st, 2019 at the Woodruff Road Donation Center.  Born and raised in Greenville, SC,  Danny has been giving back to the community he calls home for more than 30 years. He started donating as a high school student (shout out to Greenville High), and the rest is history.

Get this–Danny has donated 37 gallons! That means he’s helped save A LOT of lives! As if that wasn’t enough, Danny has shown his loyalty by giving whatever we needed at the time, from red cells, to plasma, to platelets. He’s a true selfless hero.

“I want to give back to those who need it…it’s just something to give back to the community.” 

It’s that simple, he says, giving back is the right thing to do. Danny is also a proud graduate of Clemson University, where he worked until his recent retirement. Now, he encourages his co-workers, neighbors, and others in his community to give back with him. He’s sharing life in more ways than one.

Danny is the perfect example of a local lifesaver who cares about his community. We’re lucky to have him as a donor in our Upstate community. Way to go Danny! 

Loyal Donor, Hometown Hero

Loyal Donor, Hometown Hero

Loyal Donor, Hometown Hero

While loyalty may be hard to find these days, The Blood Connection has found a proven loyal friend in Morris Gray, also known as “Mo.” He’s what some may call a super-donor. On March 24th, he donated blood for the 201st time at the TBC Easley Donation Center. For the past eight years, he’s donated consistently twice a month. So far this year, he’s already donated five times, bringing his donation total to 25 gallons! Morris’ donation story started back in 1996, when he gave blood for the first time with a coworker on a spur of the moment. That simple decision changed his life and has since saved countless others’ lives. Morris has certainly earned the ‘super-donor’ title; he can add it to his resume, right next to ‘lifesaver.’

Cancer patients are Morris’ inspiration for giving. He donates in honor of his friends who have battled the disease. He’s thankful to have the type of virus-free blood that cancer patients need, something he wouldn’t have known if he hadn’t donated years ago. Knowing his blood has the power to help patients in his hometown is what keeps him coming back. Morris also donates to feel more connected to his community. Since all of the blood TBC collects stays in the community, Morris is giving life to his fellow Upstate neighbors with every donation. He also gives his precious time to spread the word about the importance of giving blood. He’s a big advocate for donating at the TBC Easley Center, his home away from home.

“I enjoy the staff very much and their craziness – the good humor, laughter and the professional, caring attention they give me!”

It’s easy to celebrate a hometown hero like Morris. The Blood Connection is extremely grateful for his giving spirit and big impact he’s made in the community for the past 20 years. TBC hopes Morris’ story will inspire others to join an unstoppable team of loyal donors on a mission to save lives in the Upstate.