Story told by Mandy McMahon
Every day, the timely delivery of blood and blood products means the difference between life and death for patients in need. In fact, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood—a person giving birth, a neighbor receiving cancer treatment, and countless other conditions. To meet this constant demand, the American Red Cross must collect about 12,500 units every day, and our community emergency vehicles are essential to this lifesaving work.
Roger Chaddick, a retiree from Irmo, SC, is one of the dedicated volunteers who helps ensure blood products are delivered to hospitals caring for patients in need.
"I have a route I drive every Monday. I pick up the product from the blood center on Bull Street in Columbia and take it over to whatever hospital has requested product, pick up their empty boxes, and bring them back to the lab," Roger describes a typical Monday as a Blood Transportation Specialist.
Blood Transportation volunteers use Red Cross vehicles to transport blood after it's been processed and tested to the hospital that has requested the specific products. As the single largest blood supplier in the country, the Red Cross collects and distributes about 40% of the nation's blood supply.
"I had to go pick up boxes from a hospital recently, and there were 27 empty boxes. Apparently, they had several burn patients, one of which was burned over 97% of his body. They had requested a big rush of product the prior weekend," Roger describes the incredible volume of blood that might be requested from a hospital to care for patients with severe conditions. "This work is really critical to get these products to the various hospitals because there are patients in dire need of blood, platelets, and plasma to help them recover."
Approximately 29,000 units of red blood cells, 5,000 units of platelets, and 6,500 units of plasma are needed daily in the U.S. Generous blood donors help patients of all ages: accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients and those battling cancer.
"I've been giving platelets at the Columbia donor center every two weeks for a year or so. There was an advertisement that said, 'we need volunteer drivers.' Being retired, I thought, 'I got time, I could do this,'" Roger shares how he first became a Red Cross Volunteer in August last year. "Knowing that you're helping in some small way certainly makes me feel good."
Blood Transportation Specialists like Roger are the critical link between blood donors and needy patients. Volunteers choose regular routes, stand-by emergency deliveries, or both. To learn more about volunteering with the Red Cross, please visit redcross.org/volunteer.
"There’s a need out there, and if you have the time, there are certainly people who need these products delivered,” said Roger on what volunteering means to him. “We all have things going on in our lives. Whatever you can do to help makes a difference.”
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