In the days
of kings and queens, nobility was judged to be an innate quality
carried and passed on in blood.
MOUNTING THE DRIVE
Katrina Coble, business manager
for computer science, organizes blood drive recruiter
packets in her Sitterson Hall office. The drive is scheduled
for June 9, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Smith Center.
To schedule a time to donate, call 96-BLOOD (962-5663)
or see www.sph.unc.edu/blood/.
Here at the University, a different kind
of tradition has emerged that some would say is far nobler:
the act of giving blood in order to sustain life.
The tradition began 16 years ago with
Ed Phillips, the director of business operations in Facilities
Services, and his assistant, Debbie Anderson.
In the beginning, sites used for the summer
blood drive were the Carolina Inn and Facility Services' buildings
on Airport Drive.
Eventually, the Smith Center was made
available to accommodate a growing number of donors, and five
years ago, a winter blood drive was started as well. In recent
years, Human Resources has earmarked funding to plan and promote
the drives and designated a paid employee to lead the effort.
But a year ago, belt-tightening measures
forced upon the University by budget cuts appeared for a time
to put the drive at risk. The staff position in Human Resources
that had coordinated this event was revamped in the spring of
2003. The responsibility for putting the blood drive together
was moved to H.E.E.L.S. for Health. Not long after, budget cuts
led to that program being abolished at that time, leaving members
of the Blood Drive Committee not knowing for sure what was going
These sudden and unanticipated circumstances
left a leadership void on the committee that everyone knew had
to be filled if a summer blood drive was going to happen.
And it was about this time that Katrina
Coble, like a knight in shining armor, hopped on her white horse
and took charge.
Coble, the business manager for the computer science department,
can still remember the day she became committed to the cause.
It was during the blood drive kickoff
of 1993, and Anderson arrived to speak with her twin 3-year-old
girls in tow.
'Blood: A gift from the hearts of Carolina'
The 16th Annual University-wide Blood
Drive will be held June 9 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the
Dean E. Smith Center.
Organizers encourage Carolina employees
to help the drive reach its goal of 1,000 units of blood
in a single day.
The blood drive here is the largest
single-day, single-collection-site blood drive on the
East Coast. Carolina's 15 annual summer drives -- combined
with its five annual winter drives -- have produced some
17,000 units of blood that have helped to save nearly
50,000 lives in the Triangle area community.
To schedule a time to donate, call
96-BLOOD (962-5663) or go to www.sph.unc.edu/blood/.
Many departments or work units have
Blood Drive Recruiters who can provide more information
and assist you with scheduling appointments. A list of
recruiters is available on the blood drive web site.
Along with donors, the drive needs
volunteers to assist with registration, set-up, the canteen,
escorting donors to and from the donation area and parking.
You can sign up online to volunteer at www.sph.unc.edu/blood/
For more information about donor eligibility
and other questions related to giving blood, see www.sph.unc.edu/blood/.
Participation in the University-wide
Blood Drive is considered work time with advance approval
of your supervisor.
Her daughters had been born premature,
Anderson said, and needed blood in their first weeks of life
Coble couldn't help thinking about her
own 2-year-old daughter. A newborn baby needs only a cup of
blood to stay alive? What would she have felt like if her daughter
had needed that one cup and it wasn't there?
"I listened to her story, and I
concluded that the only way to be an effective blood drive recruiter
was to begin donating myself," Coble said.
"I had never thought anything about
it before, frankly I was scared to death of needles, but Debbie's
story was so moving that I felt I had to give. I had no choice."
But Coble's commitment now is driven less
by emotions than the facts that she can recite as easily as
her children's names.
"The statistics will tell you that
less than 5 percent of the U.S. population gives blood, yet
approximately 96 percent of us will need a blood product at
some point during our lifetime," she said.
People need blood for so many different
reasons it is hard to predict the whens or whys -- a reality
driven home for Coble in December of 1996 when her 80-year-old
grandfather Ira Braxton was diagnosed with sideroblastic anemia.
The family was told that he could live quite a while with the
anemia but that he would have to receive blood when his blood
count dropped too low.
Seven months after the diagnosis, doctors
discovered her grandfather also had multiple myeloma -- a form
of cancer that destroys the white blood cells that fight infection.
"Granddaddy lived 18 months after
he was diagnosed with anemia, and they were good months," Coble
said. "His life was sustained by blood, and receiving blood
was the only treatment he had for both disorders. That meant
his body did not have to be ravaged by the effects of chemotherapy,
and he was able to live his life as he normally would until
It was during this period of her grandfather's
illness that Coble began serving on the Blood Drive Committee
and helping to lead recruitment efforts.
Just as Anderson did with her daughters,
Coble has turned her grandfather's experience into a story to
share with others to get them to see what she saw.
After hearing Anderson four years before,
she decided she had to give.
After her grandfather's experience, Coble
felt an even more powerful urge: the desire to give back.
In those 18 months, her grandfather received
64 units of blood that helped to keep him alive.
"I want to give back at least 64
units of blood in my lifetime to replace what was so preciously
given to him," she said.
Keeping the drive alive
Anne Webb, a Blood Drive Committee
member, said the drive is a unique enterprise within the University
because it happens through the work of more than 200 volunteers.
Their commitment has sustained and expanded the drive to what
it is today, Webb said.
"The whole committee and the day
itself are very special when you stop and consider how many
people are being helped," Webb said. "It is the second-largest
one-day drive in the nation. We have always been so proud of
it, and we've had a lot of support from the University.
"Our committee, and particularly
Katrina, didn't want to see it die. What we really needed last
year was somebody to be a leader, somebody to say, `OK, I'm
going to take on this responsibility.'"
What Coble did, in effect, was to assume
much of the responsibility for the planning and preparation
for the blood drive that had previously been done by others.
Coble's willingness to do that, and success in pulling it off,
led Webb to nominate her for the Robert E. Bryan Public Service
Award, an honor Coble received earlier this year.
"Even before she took over the committee,
everyone tended to bounce ideas off Katrina because she cared
so much," Webb said. "She is so involved, I think, because it
comes from her heart. This is her cause, and she is dedicated
to making it happen."
'It doesn't cost
The 2003 summer drive was staged on July 22 with the help of
200 volunteers, more than 1,200 donors, 150 recruiters and 75
local food and merchant vendors.
Other members of the committee who helped
make it happen were Webb, Bob Schreiner and Leslie Cornell from
the School of Public Health, Becky Eatmon with the School of
Pharmacy, Deborah Hawkins with public safety, Clayton Womble
at the Smith Center and Shelly Green, who works in Employee
"It's amazing what a group of dedicated
people can do, and last year's drive was proof of that," Green
Within a 12-hour period, the drive yielded
1,031 productive units of blood, enough to supply 70 percent
of the needs for one full day in all the hospitals that the
American Red Cross serves within its Carolinas Region.
"We hit the goal and went over,
and that was the first time we did that in several years. That
was definitely icing on the cake," Green said.
"It could have easily been gone,
but I think that the administration understands the importance
of this event and the degree to which all employees and community
members look forward to it each year," Green said. "For people
who have been doing this for years, it's sort of like a reunion."
In December, the winter blood drive collected
273 productive units of blood with help from 300 donors and
Over their existence, the two drives together
have produced about 17,000 units of blood that would later be
given to nearly 50,000 people.
The work continues this year, Coble said.
On May 13, the committee had its annual kickoff for the blood
drive that will be held this year on June 9 -- some six weeks
earlier than usual.
Coble's goal is to have at least one recruiter
in each building or department on campus. Currently, there are
150 recruiters. Large buildings should have more than one, she
As in other years, Coble will encounter
people who object to the idea of giving blood, and no doubt
they voice the fears she has heard repeated many times before,
from the fear of needles to worries about getting AIDS.
There is zero chance of contracting AIDS
when giving blood, Coble said.
As for the needle, she suggests pinching
a little skin on your forearm for a few seconds. The pain you
will feel is about the same as what a needle would cause. If
you can stand that little bit of pain, you can probably stand
the prick of a needle, too.
There is one fact that Coble sees as the
clincher when it comes to getting people to see the beauty of
The human body has 10 to 12 units of blood
and can replenish a unit of blood, which is slightly less than
a pint, within 48 hours, and to committed blood drive volunteers
that's about as good as finding out money can grow on trees.
"It's a wonderful feeling to participate
in something that can do so much and cost so little," Coble