Blood donations increase during Aimee Copeland's time in Augusta but drop back down for rest of summer

By: Trishna Begam Email
By: Trishna Begam Email

News 12 This Morning / Friday, Aug. 31, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- When Aimee Copeland made national headlines, blood drives were held in her honor and many felt compelled to donate. As she moved into recovery and rehab phase, many donors moved on, too, and blood banks are experiencing a dip in donations.

However, there are many patients young and old who are dependent on that blood.

Peyton Pilcher has been through more in her 13 months of living than most average healthy adults.

Holly Pilcher, Peyton's mother, said, "Peyton was diagnosed on December 28th, with liver cancer."

That was eight months ago when she was just 5 months old. Doctors told Holly, her baby girl needed blood right away.

"I don't imagine things like that happening to little babies like her," she said.

Peyton was at the mercy of blood donations from the Shepeard Community Blood Center.

"I think it's absolutely amazing, she was given blood on several occasions," Pilcher said. "I was able to see life go back into her."

Peyton was lucky because the blood was readily available.

"Things are tough right now all across the nation and here as well. What occurs is all summer we have instead of 20 people coming, we have 18 people come. Next thing you know, we're at the end of the summer, and we're like, 'Oh no,'" said Linda Petersen with the blood center.

In May of this year when news of Copeland's accident broke, donations spiked with 4,228 people trying to donate. In May of 2011, that number was 24 percent lower with about 3,212 people trying to donate.

Now that Copeland's story isn't in the spotlight anymore, there aren't as many blood drives in her honor. August's numbers are back down to a little more than 3,155.

"Kind of a dying down of enthusiasm. The need's still there, they just aren't thinking of it, they've gone on with their life," Petersen said.

"Could be more awareness on how important it is to donate blood, I don't think people put as much thought in as to who that blood goes to," Pilcher said.

She says because there are more patients like Peyton, young and old, who need blood any given day, she is hoping Peyton, too, will become an inspiration and a motivation for those who have the ability to give the gift of life.

To learn more about donating blood, click here.

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