Local News

UNC students bleed more than Carolina blue for friend

Posted December 15, 2009 4:24 p.m. EST
Updated December 15, 2009 6:36 p.m. EST

— University of North Carolina students rolled up their sleeves Tuesday to show support for a classmate who friends say is battling complications from the H1N1 virus.

Freshman Lillian Chason has been in critical condition at UNC Hospitals for weeks. Friends said Tuesday that she started feeling bad before Thanksgiving and went into the hospital on Nov. 20.

"She's on basically a life-support machine that's oxygenating her blood for her right now," freshman Zealan Hoover said.

The machine requires so much blood to circulate through Chason's system that her family asked her friends at UNC to organize a blood drive.

"I just feel like I have to do something," freshman Laura Page said, noting that Chason was the first person she met at UNC.

"She's crazy and fun and talkative and out there, and she's an amazing friend," Page said of her fellow drama major, who had landed the lead role in a play that was supposed to open next month.

So many people wanted to participate in the campus blood drive that, within three hours of posting the event on Facebook, every appointment was filled. Rex Blood Services, which ran the drive, redirected students who tried to donate blood without an appointment to a Red Cross blood drive that also was being held on campus Tuesday.

"I know that we've had a lot of walk-in donors," said Caroline Allison, a donor recruitment representative for the Red Cross.

Allison said an unexpected boost to a blood drive is especially helpful at this time of year, when donations are normally down.

"(People) are out shopping, (and) their companies may be closed when they might normally host a blood drive," she said.

The blood drive organized in Chason's honor collected more than 50 units of blood. There is no way of knowing how many more units were collected by the Red Cross.

"It's just nice to be able to do something that really means a lot to her and her family," Hoover said.