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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Donate blood or time at June 4 Carolina Blood Drive

blood_drive_400Three years ago, Connie Blumenthal was going through her typical routine, never expecting her life to take a complete turn.

But in March 2010, what began as a bad cold quickly became something so much more. After being treated for a suspected case of pneumonia and a trip to the emergency room, test results revealed an abnormally high white blood cell count. Then came the unexpected diagnosis of leukemia, a white blood cell disease, and her life changed forever.

Blumenthal, a research associate at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Sciences Research, was immediately admitted to the hospital and began a month-long chemotherapy treatment to destroy the increased white blood cells. But because chemotherapy treatments kill both red and white blood cells, Blumenthal needed frequent blood transfusions to replenish her red blood cell and platelet supply.

“In my 13 years working for Carolina, I have always recognized how important the Carolina Blood Drive was, but I had never expected it to touch me personally,” she said.

Blumenthal received blood and platelet transfusions twice a week during her first round of chemotherapy and continued to receive transfusions during follow-up treatments and check-ups. In total, she received an estimated 26 to 28 units of blood during the course of her leukemia treatment.

Now more than two years in remission, Blumenthal is thankful for those who take the time to donate blood. “I know, even more now, how important giving blood is because I wouldn’t be here today without it,” she said.

Blumenthal encourages campus and community members to volunteer or give blood during the upcoming Carolina Blood Drive on June 4 at the Smith Center. “Blood drives like this make it possible for people to get much-needed blood during an emergency or when battling an illness,” she said.

Hopes are high for a big turnout at this year’s 25th anniversary drive. Since the Carolina Blood Drive began, 21,786 units of blood have been collected, having an impact on some 65,358 lives. This year’s goal of 1,000 units will help save even more lives across the Carolinas Region of the American Red Cross.

“Being a recipient of multiple blood transfusions, I know how important donating blood is and I wish I could donate,” Blumenthal said. She encourages the community to participate – by volunteering or donating blood during the Carolina Blood Drive.

People attending the blood drive will have opportunities to win door prizes including tickets to men’s and women’s basketball games, autographed basketballs, football tickets and items donated by Student Stores. Donors will also have a chance to win a $1,000 gift card from the American Red Cross Carolina’s Region.

For Carolina employees, time spent at the drive is considered work-time if their supervisors approve it ahead of time.

For details and to register to donate or volunteer at the drive, visit unc.edu/blood.

To find out if you are eligible to donate, see blooddrive.web.unc.edu/donor.