Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Shepeard Community Blood Center worker Linda McCladdie monitors Gloria Glasser as she donates blood on Monday at a drive organized in honor of Aimee Copeland. Copeland used to babysit Glasser's children when they lived in Snellville.
Aimee Copeland Blood Drive
The South Gwinnett Rotary Club put on a blood drive for Aimee Copeland on Monday, May 21, 2012.
SNELLVILLE — With their daughter battling for her life in an Augusta hospital bed, Andy and Donna Copeland quickly found their way to a blood donation center, knowing that the red cells and platelets were giving 24-year-old Aimee the chance to fight a flesh-eating bacteria.
As Andy Copeland donated platelets just three days after a wound from a zip-lining accident sent his daughter to the hospital, he made a commitment to donate as often as he is allowed, Shepeard Community Blood Center’s Pamela Rascon recounted.
With Aimee finally back on the mend — 259 units of blood products later and after the amputation not only of the injured leg but her other foot and hands — a community came together Monday to replace that blood, hundreds of miles from the hospital.
“We are honored to be here,” Rascon said of the Snellville blood drive, organized by the South Gwinnett Rotary Club where Andy Copeland will soon become president-elect.
Andy Copeland told her that he wanted the world to know the importance of donating blood and blood products, because he was so grateful they were there when his daughter needed them. With Copeland alone needing 24 percent of the blood shipped to Doctors Hospital in Augusta, Rascon said there is a need to replenish.
“This gives us hope,” Rascon recounted Andy Copeland’s message.
Hope was on the minds of many donors, as blood flowed from their veins. And as word spread that Aimee was able to breathe on her own Sunday, after weeks on a ventilator.
Some knew the Copelands, but others have simply been touched by the story, following Aimee’s battle on Facebook or other national media.
Gloria Glasser was amazed to learn that the woman inspiring a nation was the girl who baby-sat her children when they were young.
“She was so sweet and so beautiful. But the thing that sticks out most in their minds was she would let them stay up past their bedtime,” Glasser said with a laugh. “We always knew they were in good hands.”
Glasser said she knew instantly she wanted to help, and her now 16-year-old wanted to, as well, although school finals stood in the way.
“I jumped at the chance to help,” she said. “Whatever we can do.”
After her sister was in a car accident in high school, Julie Swain began donating, at one point being honored as a Four Seasons donor by the Red Cross. But she slipped out of the habit, until Monday, drawn back by the inspiring tale.
“Something so simple could come into something so tragic,” Swain said of Copeland’s contraction of necrotizing fasciitis. “You just never know when someone else needs it. ... What a tragic thing to happen. If it can help, then that’s really what it’s all about.”
More than 400 people made an appearance at the First Baptist Church of Snellville for the event, allowing the club to collect 233 units of blood. Members also collected $9,000, including a $5,000 gift from the employees of Carey Paul Honda in Snellville.
“We are extremely happy with the response from the community,” said club member Barbara Myers, who added that some people waited two hours to give blood.
Before rolling up her sleeve to donate blood Monday, Janet Martin manned a table, where well-wishers could sign cards for the South Gwinnett grad to read in the hospital.
“I said we were amazed at her bravery and pray for her daily,” Martin, a Rotary Club member, said of her message to the Copelands. “The Lord has plans for her future.”