CARROLLTON, Ga. (Tuesday, May 15, 2012) -- A phenomenal response for Aimee Copeland on Tuesday at her college in Carrollton resulted more than 200 people offering to donate blood.
So many people lined up to donate the blood, dozens of others were turned away; they signed up to participate in a second blood drive on June 1.
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Aimee Copeland, 24, is fighting a rare, flesh-eating bacteria, necrotizing fasciitis, which she contracted when she fell into the Little Tallapoosa River on May 1, during an outing with friends, and cut her leg.
Doctors have amputated her left leg at the hip, and she may also lose her remaining foot and her fingers.
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Aimee Copeland's family asked for the blood drive, asked for people at her college, the University of West Georgia, just to donate blood -- not only for Aimee and her fight in an Augusta hospital against the infection, but also for other patients who need life-saving blood transfusions.
"This is my first time donating blood," rising senior Alisha Contractor said as she reclined during the donation process in the university's gym, where the Shepeard Community Blood Center of Augusta had set up the blood drive. "I just wanted to show my support."
"She is my son's age, so I felt compelled to come out, just to help this student, because she's accomplished so much, and she still has a great life ahead of her," said Jerry Terrell of Carrollton.
The blood drive lasted from 2 until 7 p.m., and when 163 people ultimately lined up to donate, organizers had to cut the line off in order to attend to them all. The blood center then arranged the second blood drive at the University of West Georgia gym, scheduled for June 1, and as of Tuesday evening 75 people had signed up.
Lisa Meaker drove for two hours from Cumming, a distance of more than 100 miles, because she saw the family's blood-drive appeal on the news.
"I just felt drawn to do something," Meaker said as she donated blood. "I've never given blood before. My sister was, like, 'What if you're not the same blood type?' I said, 'You know, it doesn't really matter because the blood bank needs the blood for everyone.'"
"That the family is trying to get more donors, not just for Aimee but for everybody else, it just kind of shows that they understand other patients that are in danger of losing their lives are also in need of blood," Contractor said.
Teresa Mathis drove from Douglasville to donate.
"If I had a family member in need, I would want the same response, as well, just for everyone to share the love," she said.
Aimee Copeland and her family may never know how many lives their appeal for blood saved, with the help of all the donors, as she struggles to live.
"Today was an amazing day, an absolutely amazing day," Aimee's classmate and friend Richard LaFleur told 11Alive's Jon Shirek. "Aimee loved to touch and change people's lives. And this was one way that she was able to do that. And she doesn't even know that she's doing it today."
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 Statement from Pamela B. Rascon, the Director of Community Resources for Shepeard Community Blood Center in Augusta:
The final results of this beautiful day of support...163 registered yesterday and 127 donors drawn. From that, 113 good units were collected. 15 had to leave because of the wait time, and 75 people left their name and phone number for when we return on June 1st.
Community Blood Centers are in a unique position to see the best of people EVERY DAY as loyal volunteer blood donor's partner with us. The donor rolls up their sleeve, gives of their valuable free time, their health and shares the gift of life with those patients in need.
In a time of human crisis the community at large is able to share in this incredible witness. When we meet people like Andy, Donna & Paige Copeland, that are willing to share their story, and advocate for the need for blood donations, we are humbled and amazed at their strength and ability to look beyond their personal situation and even desire to step out for a cause with their beautiful daughter in crisis.
As Paige said to me, "If Aimee were able, SHE would have been walking the streets of Carrollton asking people to donate blood at the University Of West Georgia Blood Drive! That's Aimee! She loves helping others and knowing all the blood collected helps OTHERS! That would make Aimee smile!"