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!

A Precious Story

A Precious Story

A Precious Story

            As a parent of a child who used blood products to survive, it has been an honor for me to be employed at The Blood Connection.  I started this journey in 2000 as a recruitment volunteer sharing my daughter’s story throughout the community and surrounding collection areas to help increase minority blood donations and sickle cell awareness.  My daughter, Precious Gamble, received monthly blood transfusions in order to keep her hemoglobin as close to twelve as possible to prevent her from having additional strokes due to sickle cell disease.  During this time, it was extremely hard to find minority blood donors with the same genetic makeup as Precious. In most cases, it doesn’t matter who the blood donor was as long as the blood was on the shelf when needed. However, in rare cases like someone receiving monthly blood transfusions, it’s important for the recipient to receive blood from someone of the same ethnicity due to each race having different types of antigens pertinent to them.  Sharing my daughter’s story taught me that there are people in this world willing to help you even if they don’t know you.  Precious’ story helped increase minority blood donations by 1000 units in 2001.

            After my daughter died in February 2004, I made it my mission to continue promoting the importance of minority blood donations and sickle cell awareness.  I was hired at The Blood Connection as a “Special Recruiter” in September, 2004. In this position, I was constantly out in the community recruiting blood donors, setting up booths at health fairs, doing speaking engagements at local schools, colleges, different community organizations and churches sharing my daughter’s story and educating the community on the different myths about donating blood.  While being out in the community was rewarding within itself, I decided to switch departments after three and a half years and learn all that I could about what happens to the blood after it’s donated.

            In the manufacturing systems department, the whole blood unit is turned into different life saving components.  This is a very busy department. On a daily basis the whole blood units collected are separated into an rbc, plasma and sometimes a cryoprecipitate. The rbc is then leukoreduced by filtration and when all testing is complete, the components, are ready for distribution out to the hospitals.  To be a part of the processing side is completely different from the recruiting side because it’s more hands on and public free unless there is a tour coming through. This is an interesting process to see during a tour. Although, being in this department, didn’t allow me to promote minority blood donations on a daily basis, it did help me to play a major role in making sure that the components were prepared in a safe manner for future recipients.  Having good team oriented employees in this department helps to ensure that component processing never comes to a halt.  Although, processing the blood was interesting and sometimes fun, in 2018, I decided to switch departments again to learn how it all ties together.

            Every unit of blood collected has to be approved by the Quality Systems (QS) department. This department is basically behind the scene making sure that all The Blood Connection standards are upheld to the highest quality within each department. By doing the behind the scene inspections and reviews QS is able to help carry out the mission of all TBC employees to make sure that our hospitals have an adequate, safe and cost effective blood supply.

My name is Priscilla Ketter and I am a proud employee carrying out the mission of The Blood Connection while helping to save one more for Precious.


TBC Joins Jordan’s Journey

TBC Joins Jordan’s Journey

Jordan’s Journey: #jj33strong

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – In June, 15-year-old Jordan Freeman was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Because blood transfusions are an important part of her treatments, Jordan’s father, Mark Freeman, has led the charge to host blood drives in the area since Jordan’s diagnosis. Mark is is a Spartanburg County Deputy and well known in the community. The hashtag above has been the symbol of Jordan’s fight against the disease.

As her father explained on Facebook about the diagnosis: “She has been put on a 21 day cycle of treatment, days 1-3 is spent in the hospital receiving Chemo meds through an IV Port she had surgically implanted, on days 4-7 she will be at home taking oral meds, on day 8 she will have to go back to the Hospital for additional meds to be given through her port, on days 9-21 she will be home again taking oral meds, then it will start again for 5 cycles, 3 days in the hospital, home, 1 day at the hospital, 7 days at home, etc…We want to thank everyone for their outpouring of love and support, and appreciate all the support we have already received.”

Through the TBC Donor Benefit Plan, donors who gave blood during the “Jordan’s Journey” blood drives will be giving back to Jordan’s recovery by replenishing the local blood supply. Those blood donations will also help Jordan’s family pay for her treatments. At the latest collective blood drive in Jordan’s honor, the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, and Fox Carolina teamed up. Those blood drives collected 70 donations, enough to help save the lives of more than 200 people, just like Jordan!

Jordan’s unexpected diagnosis is an example of how blood products need to be available at any time, for any patient. That means community donors must give on a regular basis. When Jordan needed blood products, they were available because donors knew it was worth the time to donate blood. TBC is asking the rest of the community to do the same for Jordan and other hospital patients like her in the Upstate.

Find a blood drive near you today. Click here to learn more about the Donor Benefit Plan. To follow along with Jordan Journey, like her Facebook page.

“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.

Honoring Trooper Eric Nicholson

Honoring Trooper Eric Nicholson

Honoring a Local Hero 

GREENVILLE, S.C. – On December 6th, 2000, South Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper Eric Nicholson was shot and killed in Greenville after trying to pull over a robbery suspect. Nicholson was a Marine, husband, and loyal servant to his community. Coincidentally, one of his last acts of kindness was donating blood. He donated about an hour before he was killed with his wife, Misty. Since his death, she has been passionate about spreading the message of blood donation throughout the community. Blood drives in honor of Nicholson started in 2002 and have saved up to 6,000 lives. The Blood Connection is now dedicating its newest mobile donation bus to Nicholson, naming it “Eric.”   

Trooper Nicholson’s death was a big shock to the community. This event not only recognizes a community hero, but also shines a light on the risk and sacrifice that local law enforcement officers face every day.

Donate Blood in Nicholson’s Honor

The new mobile, “Eric,” opened to the public after the dedication ceremony on Friday, July 26th. The bus was officially named in the same parking lot where Nicholson was killed almost 20 years ago. Although the sacrifice of a blood donor comes no where near Nicholson’s sacrifice, the sentiment to give back to the community is similar. At the Nicholson blood drive, TBC saw 49 people and collected 45 units of blood. That has the power to save up to 135 lives in the Upstate community! Those donors honored Nicholson and continued his legacy by donating blood.

In 2021, the 21st Annual Nicholson blood drive will be held at the Law Enforcement Center and Cracker Barrel on Monday, December 6th. Sign up to donate by clicking on the name of the drive above. 

The demand for blood never stops. That’s why our local blood donors are essential to saving lives. Be the difference for someone in your community, while saying thank you to those who serve and protect.