The Blood Connection gives locals a chance to be heroes

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The Blood Connection celebrates more than five decades of saving lives

You’ve probably seen the red and white bloodmobiles parked at businesses; you might even have walked by one on your way in to work or to shop.

And you probably know someone who has had to be hospitalized and who might have required a blood transfusion.

But what you might not realize is that, in the Upstate, there is only one agency that is responsible for supplying all the blood needed for every area hospital: The Blood Connection.

Every day, the non-profit organization is tasked with supplying hundreds of units of lifesaving blood to the hospitals it serves. It’s a daunting challenge, yet TBC employees all understand the critical nature of what they do.

“Our number one priority is making sure every daughter, son, mother, father, friend, or neighbor has the blood they need to live another day,” explains Delisa English, president and CEO of The Blood Connection. “When we come together as a community to hold each other up by donating blood, we show how powerful connecting can be. It’s in our name — we make that connection between those who have and those who need, to save lives.”

The Blood Connection has been focused on saving lives since it was founded in 1962 in Greenville. Over time, TBC accepted the challenge to provide blood to hospitals in an ever-growing geographic area, and along the way became the largest independently managed, non-profit community blood center in the region, according to Terra Strange, a 13-year TBC veteran who is currently the organization’s promotions and community engagement coordinator.

Daily Demand

TBC recruits donors and collects blood within 17 counties in the Upstate. In 2011, The Blood Connection expanded into Western North Carolina; six years later TBC expanded into parts of Central North Carolina around Raleigh, as well as coastal areas of the Tar Heel State. Most recently, the blood center has expanded into Charleston.

In each area it serves, TBC works closely with local hospitals to ensure their patients have enough blood and blood products on hand to meet their needs.

“Consistently achieving daily blood collection goals ensures a worry-free inventory of blood products for our hospital partners,” Strange says. “They rely on us, and we deliver.”

In total, TBC currently serves more than 55 hospitals each day, 25 of which are in the Upstate. To meet that need, according to Strange, almost 600 units of blood must be collected daily, either at one of the five donation centers, or through the agency’s bloodmobiles.

The bloodmobiles are highly visible evidence of the close relationship between TBC and the communities it serves. Individuals, churches, businesses, organizations, and schools frequently host the mobile donation centers, Strange said.

“Thanks to our volunteer blood donors, we’ve successfully provided blood to every person in the Upstate who has needed it,” according to Strange. “The only way to make sure that the blood products are on the shelves in hospitals is through volunteer donors. That’s neighbors helping neighbors, and that need never goes away.”

English notes the challenge: “Blood cannot be replicated; it has to come from other humans,” she explains. “It’s a non-stop critical need. One in 7 people who visit a hospital need blood. Unfortunately, less than 10 percent of eligible donors actually give. And national statistics show that every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. Those numbers speak for themselves.”

People at TBC know that local patients rely on them every day, so the organization ensures that needs will be met by keeping all of the blood it collects in the communities it serves. That way, Strange says, blood is available for cancer patients, burn victims, trauma cases, surgical patients, and people with blood disorders.

“Blood donors never know whose lives they’re going to impact, but they can know their donation will always give someone’s child, parent, grandparent or neighbor a chance at life,” Strange says.

Get involved

The Blood Connection employees do everything they can to make the donation experience as pleasant as possible. Strange says The Blood Connection offers a spa-like atmosphere in our centers. “They’re clean, spacious, and comfortable,” she says, “the perfect places to give back and kick back.”

Each of the five local centers is open daily, making it easier for donors to schedule a visit, and Strange says, every donation has the power to save up to three lives. Strange said there are several ways that donors can help: They can visit one of the donation centers regularly; donate at one of the bloodmobiles, or host a blood drive as either an individual or a business.

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