Countless individuals in the area surrounding Thomson and McDuffie County find themselves in need of donated blood for some reason.
On June 24, 1986, Andrea Prater became one of them. In fact, she said she may have died had it not been for the aid of Shepherd Community Blood Center and its donors.
On that day, Ms. Prater was in a serious car accident and was severely injured both internally and externally. By the next day, she had already received 118 units of blood from Shepherd, and would need three more units during operations to repair the damages of an infection.
Considering the human body only holds six quarts of blood at a time, many would consider the total of 121 units that Ms. Prater received as staggering.
"The whole experience changed my life," Ms. Prater said. "Here I was 17 years old, and I almost died."
McDuffie County residents will get their chance to help save someone's life Tuesday, as Shepherd Community Blood Center will be holding a blood drive at the McDuffie Regional Medical Center from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
It was a similar drive almost nine years ago that helped save Ms. Prater.
Shepherd sponsored a blood drive in Lincoln County shortly after the accident to replace the blood Andrea used, and expected to collect around 140 units of blood. During that drive, the residents of Lincoln County donated 400 units.
Ms. Prater expressed a great amount of gratitude to the people of Lincoln County for their eagerness to donate so much blood merely out of their love and respect for her in her time of need.
She also expressed her appreciation for all the blood and other help the Shepherd Community Blood Center gave her.
Not surprisingly, Ms. Prater becomes a bit emotional when she talks about the possibility that she wouldn't have survived without the help of strangers. She fully realizes that the people who helped save her life were individuals she had never met.
Ms. Prater stressed the importance of giving blood, particularly to blood banks like Shepherd. She noted the incredible good that organizations like Red Cross do across the nation and around the world, but donations to Red Cross are very rarely used in this area. All blood donated to Shepherd is used in the Augusta area, which includes McDuffie County.
For several reasons, Ms. Prater cannot donate blood herself, but she helps with blood drives in any way possible, which includes word of mouth. Her story provides an effective advertisement for the immense need many people encounter for the blood others have donated.
Ms. Prater stressed the urgency of donating blood at drives like the one next week at MRMC by reflecting on the peril she faced personally.
"If I had not had that blood that day, I would have died," she said.