RALEIGH, N.C. — One North Carolina nonprofit says it needs to hit 1,000 units of blood a day to keep up with demand for the hospitals it serves across the region.

The Blood Connection supplies vital blood to hospitals in North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina.

It’s a vital supply that has helped save the lives of many people — people like Harmony VanGundy.

What You Need To Know

  • January is national blood donation month

  • One nonprofit, The Blood Connection, says people aren’t donating blood like they were pre-pandemic

  • It needs to hit 1,000 units of blood a day to keep up with current demand

A pint of beer may not be the same as a pint of blood, although for VanGundy, both have impacted her life for the better.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for people who donated blood. Our dreams have been able to come true … and my kids have me in their lives,” VanGundy said.

Gratitude is what VanGundy says she feels every day coming to work at her Wake Forest Brewery. It’s a second home for her entire family.

“Five years ago, six years ago now … we didn’t t think that was going to be possible,” VanGundy said.

Back in September 2017, VanGundy says she was in labor having her youngest son, Charlie, when the unthinkable happened.

“It’s called an amniotic fluid embolism and when that happens your amniotic fluid mixes with your bloodstream, and it immediately causes cardiac and respiratory arrest,” VanGundy said.

And her nightmare wasn’t over.

VanGundy says her blood wasn’t clotting where it should, and after having a C-Section, she had to get rapid transfusions using all the blood donations at  WakeMed North Hospital.

“They had to send blood from big Wake in an ambulance with police escorts to try to get it there as fast as possible, and all in all I used about 27 units of blood, which is about four times my body’s blood loss. I think it’s like 56 people or so needed to donate to give that amount of blood,” VanGundy said.

According to The Blood Connection, cancer patients use 25% of all blood donations. Blood transfusions are also needed for one out of every 83 newborn deliveries nationwide.

Looking back, VanGundy adds that if she had been at a rural hospital or opted for a home birth, she wouldn’t have made it.

These days, she takes advantage of every day she’s breathing, and blood donations made this all possible.

Now VanGundy wants to pay it forward, and she’s asking others to step up and do the same for their community.

“If you have any desire to do anything nice for humanity at all, give blood … because you will save someone’s life,” VanGundy said.

If you’re not near the area, you can find out where to donate blood here.