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ATLANTA -- Meredith Forrester's survival story begins and ends with the American Red Cross.

"Well, the Red Cross saved my life," she said.

Forrester was one of the victims of the Buckhead massacre.

On July 29, 1999, a crazed, cash-strapped day-trader went on a shooting spree through two office buildings on Piedmont Road, killing nine workers and wounding 20 more.

Meredith was shot in the back, two months into her first job out of college.

"The bullet hit my spine, intestines, my pancreas and destroyed two of the main veins in my heart," she said.

Meredith's doctors told her parents that her chances of survival were only one in 1,000.

Theyalsosaidhad the shootings happened two days earlier, the region's blood supply would have been too low to save her.

"During the two emergency surgeries following the shooting, I needed 115 pints of blood," she said."To put that in perspective, the human body holds 10 to 12."

She was so grateful for that life-saving blood that she began volunteering for the Red Cross a year later.

But she had to wait 10 more years before doctors would clear her to donate blood.

"It was a big deal," she said."My husband came out, and my parents were there. My two daughters were there."

"Ensuring there's an adequate and safe blood supply is very important to me because I know how important it is," sheadded."That one pint of blood can save the lives of three people."

Meredith now serves as chair of the board of directors of the American Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region.

She hopes to her survival story inspires others to donate right now, at a time when she describes the need as dire.

Meredith and the board of directors will hold a special blood drive onWednesday from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Atlanta History Center.

Donors and their guests will receive free admission, plus a chance at some cool prizes.

Walk-ins are welcome, butdonors areencouraged to book anappointment online or over the phone (1-800-RED CROSS).

Use sponsor code "arcboard"when making an appointment online.

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