Giving Blood – A Great Experience at the Charleston Center

Giving Blood – A Great Experience at the Charleston Center

Giving Blood – A Great Experience

A blog by donor Kae Childs who gave at the Charleston Center

Giving blood is one of the most satisfying things I have done in a while! Of course, during the pandemic I haven’t done too much! But in years past, the times I have attempted to donate, the attendant who was taking my blood pressure would say things like “Are you feeling ok?” “Your blood pressure is extremely low and I’m sorry but we can’t take your blood today.” This happened so many times when I told my doctor about it, he said, “Don’t try to give any more. You just have low blood pressure.”

My son in law has been a regular donor for years.  When I was keeping their dogs recently I heard from the answering machine a missed call message from The Blood Connection reminding him to come in and give blood. That struck something inside of me to try again to give.

I kept hearing after I returned to Daniel Island about how blood was especially needed during Covid. I called to see what the correct protocol was to give in our area. I explained my past low blood pressure experience. She said to just come in and they could check to see if I were eligible. I took off because something told me that this time I could do it.

I arrived at The Blood Connection and sat down for her to ask me some questions.  She put the blood pressure cuff on my arm. The bottom number she said had to be at least 50. Mine was 51! She said, you’re good to go. Do you want to give? I did!

I finished answering all of the necessary questions on the form and was given a bottle of water to quickly drink. I was ushered into a large room with lots of big, black chairs. Surprisingly I wasn’t scared but just a little bit. She had no trouble (she was the expert) finding a good vein and within 30 minutes we were finished.

Over to the refreshment area she directed me where I picked out some crackers and a Sprite. On the wall I saw a poster that said by giving blood I had just saved three lives. Imagine that! I knew right then that I was hooked. I could hardly wait until time to give again. Next time, I thought to myself, I may even try to give plasma!

Sammy Lewis and His 200th Donation

Sammy Lewis and His 200th Donation

Sammy Lewis and His 200th Donation

Meet Sammy Lewis! He has been donating blood with The Blood Connection when TBC first opened in 1962! Sammy said that he was donating one day on Grove Rd. in Greenville, SC when he saw people watching TV and was told they were donating platelets. This is what first sparked his interest in platelet donation! Sammy say, ” I remember the good old days when there was a needle in both arms.”

In 2009, he and his wife started to regularly donate blood as a family. This decision led to March 9th when Sammy hit his 200th donation with The Blood Connection! 

We are so blessed to have donors like Sammy and his wife who sacrifice their time and stand up for their community. 

“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 Mercy/Bon Secours St. Francis Eastside Hospital 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.

Retired U.S. Navy Man Donates 400+ Times

Retired U.S. Navy Man Donates 400+ Times

A Lifetime of Service 

86-year-old Harvey Spencer has spent his entire life serving his community. His service started when he joined the Navy in the 1950s for the Korean War. During a tumultuous time in U.S. history, Spencer stepped up. And he’s continued to do so. Now retired from the Navy, he’s donated blood more than 400 times, saving lives in a different way.
Among the many things that Spencer learned after joining the Navy is the importance of donating blood. Because of the war, there was an urgent need for blood. When asked to give, he did. After traveling the world with the Navy for many years, he retired about 20 years ago, when he began donating blood locally.
Noticing that he was a frequent donor, a long-time TBC employee asked Spencer to donate platelets. In true Spencer fashion, he said yes, wanting to do anything to help. A local girl in need of platelets also motivated him to learn more about platelet donation.
The rest…is history. Spencer now donates platelets twice a month at the Seneca Donation Center. He says he loves the fellowship and the staff who take good care of him; a true compliment from someone who knows the deep impact of true camaraderie.
The vivid images of his fellow military members at war remind Spencer of the importance of donating. He has this simple, Nike-esque quote for anyone who hasn’t donated before.

“Just do it.”

To Spencer, it’s that easy. You too could be a loyal donor like Spencer. Whatever your reason, local hospital patients need your donation. TBC is thankful that Spencer chose TBC to be the place where he continues his community service. With more than 400 donations, he’s saved hundreds of lives. Thank you Harvey Spencer, a hero inside and out!

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!