Blood drive for Aimee Copeland is huge success, encourages more donations

By: Carter Coyle Email
By: Carter Coyle Email
Aimee Copeland

Aimee Copeland is battling a flesh-eating disease in a local hospital. (WRDW-TV / May 9, 2012)

News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, May 15, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As West Georgia grad student Aimee Copeland slowly recovers at Doctors Hospital, her family and friends are trying to find ways to help other trauma patients in our area.

On Tuesday, Shepeard Community Blood Center was in Carrollton, Ga., running a blood drive at the West Georgia campus. They organized the blood drive after one of Aimee's friends asked how they could help.

When Aimee's family first got to the hospital, they felt helpless and wanted to know what they could do. There wasn't much, except to go to Shepeard Blood Center themselves and donate in Aimee's name.

"Right now, I'm just praising the Lord that my daughter is alive," pointed out Andy Copeland, Aimee's father. His daughter's story has captured the hearts of people all over the country.

Greg Bearden works with Shepeard Community Blood Center.

"Doing just a day of recreation with friends and suddenly to have this kind of tragedy impact their life. I think people are realizing, 'That could be my child. That could be my sister,' which is why they are so interested and want to help," Bearden said.

Pictures from the blood drive showed rows and rows of people in line to give. All of those donations will come back to Shepeard and be distributed to 20 hospitals and the JMS Burn Center.

While the blood may not be going directly to Aimee, it will be giving life to other trauma patients in our area.

Andy says this it's one way their family is giving back, too.

"If you're here in Augusta, there's no reason you shouldn't be there taking 15 or 20 minutes to donate red blood cells. I wouldn't ask anybody to do something I hadn't done myself, so I went and gave platelets. I had to sit a little bit longer to do the platelets; It didn't bother me, because guess what? My baby was here, getting platelets that day," he said.

"When Aimee was in critical need," Bearden said, "The product she needed was on the shelf at the burn center. Because faithful donors had already donated beforehand, the blood was there and ready to be used. The Copelands are so thankful for that, that they've become very, very strong advocates for Shepeard."

Aimee is still in critical condition, but her parents are hopeful. They say their daughter's story should not be called a tragedy but rather, a miracle.

"The bottom line is," Andy explained, "we've really used a lot of the resources from Shepeard. Shepeard is, I believe, a very important part of the community that cannot be understated."

Shepeard Community Blood Center is hosting two local blood drives this Friday in Aimee's honor. More than 20 Rotarians are taking a bus from Atlanta to donate blood here, and you can, too. The drives begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Augusta and Evans locations.

Blood center hours and locations:
Augusta
1533 Wrightsboro Road
Augusta, GA 30904
(706) 737-4551
Monday - Friday: 9 a.m to 6 p.m.

Evans
4329 Washington Road
Evans, GA 30809
(706) 854-1582
Monday - Friday: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday: Noon to 5 p.m.

Aiken
353 Fabian Drive
Aiken, SC 29803
(in the Hitchcock Plaza Shopping Center)
(803) 643-7996
Monday - Friday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

From The Associated Press:
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) -- A Georgia woman fighting a rare flesh-eating disease is alert and bored enough to ask her family for a book.

Aimee Copeland's request comes just a week after doctors gave her little chance of survival.

Her father said Tuesday his daughter is still breathing on a respirator but is improving more rapidly than expected. He says the 24-year-old graduate student faces months of recovery at an Augusta hospital. She was taken there after she got an infection in a cut she suffered when a zip line snapped over a river.

Andy Copeland tells The Associated Press doctors still believe they will have to amputate his daughter's fingers, though they think they can save her palms and her right foot. She has already lost most of her left leg.


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