For their friend ... and others
By Becky Barclay
Published in News on August 28, 2011 1:50 AM
Ginger Carr is one of the dozens of people who donated blood at Mount Olive Presbyterian Church. This drive was prescheduled in honor of Christie Ivey, a local woman suffering from leukemia, but the American Red Cross also was amping up its efforts to collect as much blood as possible in preparation for Hurricane Irene.
Throughout the nine years Brettany Brock has known co-worker Christie Ivey, she has always admired Mrs. Ivey's giving personality and her willingness to help others in any way she can. So when she learned that Mrs. Ivey had leukemia and that a blood drive had been organized in her honor, Ms. Brock didn't think twice about giving blood.
Southern Bank and Trust, where Mrs. Ivey works, organized the blood drive at Mount Olive Presbyterian Church for their co-worker, who just a few weeks ago was diagnosed with acute leukemia. However, with bad weather approaching, blood personnel and donors also saw it as an opportunity to help potential victims of the natural disaster.
"(Southern Bank and Trust) wanted to do something in her honor," said Kimberly Berrier, senior donor recruitment representative with the Carolinas Blood Services Region, of which Wayne County is a part. "They'd already pledged to give blood long before Hurricane Irene showed up. People doing it on behalf or in honor of someone else, that's good, too."
"As far as the hurricane goes, that's a dilemma."
That's because all of the equipment used to collect blood and the staff to operate the equipment comes from Wilmington, and it's in the path of the hurricane.
Due to the expected high winds and torrential rains, the blood drive at Berkeley Mall Saturday had already been canceled, Mrs. Berrier said. She said she hopes today's drive at Garris Chapel won't have to be canceled, but it's a waiting game.
"We wanted to be able to keep the scheduled drives," Mrs. Berrier said, "but at the same time, we had to consider the lives of the staff who are coming from Wilmington. They're important, too. They're going to have to take care of their homes and families and make sure they're set."
Mrs. Berrier noted that collecting blood before a hurricane -- or any other natural disaster -- is important because when people are evacuated, there's no telling when things will be back up and running and when the Red Cross will be able to collect blood in the evacuated areas again.
Also, people who are displaced by the storm won't be thinking about giving blood when they're trying to put their lives back together the next few weeks or even months.
In areas without power and water, the Red Cross won't be able to go into those areas to collect blood for quite a while.
"In the meantime, the rest of the state has to pick up what they can't do in the affected areas," she said. "So we're really hoping that donors who pledged to give this Saturday at the mall blood drive will come and give Sept. 1 at the mall instead."
Even before the threat of a hurricane, blood supplies across the nation had diminished.
"Anytime students get out of school, families' priorities change and they're focused on vacation and they just get out of the habit of donating blood," Mrs. Berrier said.
"But it's still the season when people travel a lot and there are more accidents. So the need for blood is still the same, maybe even a little greater. So we were already kind of down in blood supplies and now Hurricane Irene is hitting, so that's not helping."
Mrs. Berrier noted that there's always the possibility of injuries after the hurricane passes that might require blood. That's why, she said, it's even more important to donate before, during and after an emergency.
That's why, in addition to honoring their friend and co-worker, employees of Southern Bank rolled up their sleeves and gave the gift of life Thursday.
"I know Christie would do it for me," Ms. Brock said without hesitating. "She is a person who has personally affected me."
Ms. Brock gave blood for the first time in her life back in April, following the deadly tornadoes here.
"It felt like such a rewarding experience to know I was helping somebody," she said. "It's the same thing now with the hurricane coming. I know somebody's going to need the blood."
And Ms. Brock will always be grateful to the strangers who donated blood when her 3-year-old niece needed a transfusion and her mother needed two.
Another co-worker, Brittany Newsome, said donating blood Thursday -- or any day -- is for a good cause.
"I would want someone to do the same for me," she said. "It's the right thing to do."
She described Mrs. Ivey as a strong woman. "Hands down, she's going to be all right," Ms. Newsome said.
And Thursday, Ms. Newsome was thinking not only of her co-worker, but also of the possible victims of Hurricane Irene.
Christy Goodwin was another who gave blood in honor of Mrs. Ivey. She's known her for 10 years and said Mrs. Ivey is the type of person who would give you the shirt off her back. "She's awesome and the nicest person," Ms. Goodwin said. "She goes above and beyond to help anybody."
Ms. Goodwin wasn't thinking of just her co-worker Thursday.
"I'm also thinking about the victims of Hurricane Irene who may need blood," she said.
There will always be a need for blood, not just following Hurricane Irene.
For donors who want to give blood, there is a drive Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the State Employees Credit Union on Berkeley Boulevard, Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Adamsville Baptist Church and Sept. 3 at Berkeley Mall from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
For more information about the blood drives, call the local Red Cross office at 735-7201.