Claudia Pickett can’t help but smile when you ask her why she chooses to volunteer with the Red Cross. It is her personal story that drives her to give back and she hopes it will drive others to do the same.
“I am excited about the Red Cross now because they helped save my life,” said Pickett.
Claudia Pickett grew up in Columbia, South Carolina and worked in healthcare for years as a nurse. However, in late 2014, she became very sick.
“I became ill and healthcare workers usually care for themselves last,” said Pickett. “After so many tests they said I had a Gastrointestinal Bleed and that was related to Crohn’s Disease which impacts the large intestine and bowels.”
Because of that illness, Pickett was losing large amounts of blood.
“They told my family that it was grim. They didn’t expect me to make it. By the grace of God, I am still here,” Pickett remembers.
Pickett needed immediate transfusions to have a chance at recovery.
“That blood saved my life. If I didn’t have the blood my Hemoglobin was dropping down. Hemoglobin takes oxygen through the body so, heart was not was not being nourished, my brain. You start gradually losing function,” Pickett explained.
Claudia was able to receive transfusions at hospitals in South Carolina because of generous blood donors. The more transfusions she received, the better she felt.
“She was at the point of death, but when she got the blood, the transfusions, the life started coming back. It was a lifesaving thing for her,” Claudia’s sister Pamela tearfully remembers. “I say it is from death to life because I saw the change when she got the blood. It made me feel good, made her feel good, made everyone feel good.”
For Claudia and Pamela, the experience for that need for blood was not their first. Pamela’s daughter, Chanel Longwood, was diagnosed with Leukemia when she was 7-years-old. Chanel received transfusions in the early 1990’s before she passed away at the age of nine.
“The Red Cross does so much but it became personal with my niece. She was so young and had Leukemia and she needed platelets. Then, I got older and it was me that needed the blood. It has become personal and I cannot just sit around and not do anything.”
It was a long and difficult road to recovery, but in 2018, Claudia Pickett decided to become a Red Cross of South Carolina volunteer and help as a Blood Donor Ambassador.
“Things have to become personal for you to understand. I used to see all the things about the drives, and I may have given blood once or twice,” Pickett explains. “The people that come in and give so generously. They do not hesitate. They know that they are helping somebody.”
Claudia Pickett recently worked as a volunteer at a blood drive at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia.
“I tell you what, I could not have gone wrong when I signed up to be a volunteer,” Pickett said.
Claudia and her family encourage others to consider donating blood if you are able. You can find information about donating including upcoming blood drives by visiting RedCrossBlood.org
“I just love the fact that people care,” Pickett said smiling.
Don’t wait – help now!
1. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
2. Let your friends and family know there is a constant need for blood and ask them to give now.
3. Bring someone to donate with you.
Every day, volunteer blood and platelet donors across the country are needed to help save lives. Your support can help ensure that blood products are there for accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.
Make an appointment to give now.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization – not a government agency – and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org/SC or @RedCrossSC