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My Carolina Blood Drive for Aimee Copeland Is Today!

Copeland family“Let’s do this.”

That’s what a very brave 24-year-old Aimee Copeland said to her father, Andy Copeland, ’83, when faced with the prospect of losing her hands and feet in order to save her life while battling a rare flesh-decaying virus. Now, “Let’s do this” is a challenge posed to alumni and fans of the University of South Carolina and the University of Georgia to give blood.

My Carolina Alumni Association and the University of Georgia Alumni Association are hosting a “Border Bash” blood drive in the name of graduate student Aimee Copeland, who remains in critical condition at Doctors Hospital of Augusta after contracting a rare flesh-decaying infection following a fall from a homemade zip-line along the Little Tallapoosa River near Carrollton, Georgia, in early May.  

The blood drive in Columbia will be held on Monday, June 11, from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. in the house owned by Sigma Phi Epsilon National Housing corporation at 509 Lincoln Street in the Greek Village. The house is located off Blossom Street next to the Strom Thurmond Fitness and Wellness facility. The first 100 donors to the campus donation site will receive a gift courtesy of My Carolina and The State newspaper.

If you are unable to get to the site on campus, the Red Cross Columbia Donor Center is open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., and on Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. at 2751 Bull Street.

This is a nationwide challenge, so anyone not living in or near Columbia, SC, or Athens, GA, is encouraged to go to any blood donation center to contribute and if so inclined, declare that the donation is in honor of Aimee Copeland. The University of Georgia will hold its blood drive at Memorial Hall on campus on June 13 from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. and at Reed hall from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. View a list of South Carolina blood-donation centers.

Aimee CopelandAimee Copeland’s story has made national headlines in recent weeks as the 24-year-old Georgia alumna and daughter of Carolina alumnus Andy Copeland fights for her life after having already lost her leg, both hands and remaining foot. For most, the bacteria that infected her are not life-threatening, but for Aimee, it created an infection that has been literally destroying flesh and endangering organs.

“It takes no courage to give blood; it only takes time,” says Andy Copeland. “When you think it's too much trouble to give blood, think about that 24-year old gal lying in that hospital bed without a leg, foot and two hands. Think about her stout bravery in the face of fire. Think about the wounded veterans who come home every day missing limbs. Think about the day when you might face your own family tragedy. Don't be the person who says, ‘I wish I had given blood;’ be the person who says, ‘I'm so glad I gave.’”

Doctors have said it was “a perfect storm” of bad luck that set things in motion for Aimee, who is currently a graduate student at the University of West Georgia. The bacteria, known as Aeromonas hydrophila, are believed to have entered her body through the leg injury from the fall that required nearly two dozen staples to close.

While the blood drives are in honor of Aimee, the donations could help countless others.

“Burn and wound patients go through more units of blood than any other patients at Doctors Hospital,” Andy Copeland says. “As of Monday (May 21), Aimee had been through over 200 units of blood products, including red blood cells, fresh frozen plasma, platelets and cryo. These units are slow to be replaced, and keep in mind that there are over 70 beds in the burn unit alone. While Aimee has been at Doctors for about four weeks, some patients have been there for six months. After each surgery, these patients require additional units of blood.”

Andy Copeland appealed to My Carolina and the UGA Alumni Association because he knew both alumni bases believe in reaching out and making an impact on the lives of others.

“I believe we share a special fellowship of love and compassion and we need to prove to the world that life transcends sports,” Copeland says. “We should face the world with an effort toward making it a better place for everyone. Now is the time for us to assert leadership in all things, whether it is our baseball team winning national titles back to back or our football team beating our Upstate rivals and winning bowl games. We are willing to give our money to support our sports programs, but are we willing to give our blood to support life? The answer to that should be a resounding, ‘Yes!'"

The family is not asking for donations, but they will accept them in lieu of flowers and balloons to help pay for hospital bills.

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