The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Employee Forum and the American Red Cross held the annual Holiday Carolina Blood Drive on Thursday, collecting blood donations to prepare for the winter months.

Many community members visited Fetzer Hall on UNC’s campus to roll up their sleeves and donate, with organizers reporting afterward the event exceeded its goal. More than 270 units of blood were given on Thursday, with 62 first-time donors participating.

According to Garrett Reid, who is the regional donor services executive for the Eastern NC Blood Services Region, now is a critical time to add to the supply of blood for hospitals and medical centers.

“Because of the upcoming holidays and cold and flu season, this time of year is traditionally hard on the nation’s blood supply,” Reid said in a release. “Add in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the Red Cross needs healthy blood donors to step up even more right now to ensure products are available for patients when they need them.”

Donors on Thursday will also soon receive information regarding COVID-19, as the Red Cross is testing the blood, platelet and plasma donations for coronavirus antibodies. According to the organization, the test may indicate whether a donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to stave off COVID-19, whether they have previously developed symptoms or not. These donors’ plasma units then become even more important, as they could be used in the future to help patients actively fighting the virus.

The Red Cross said donors at Thursday’s drive can expect to receive the results of their antibody test within seven to ten days.

The Carolina Blood Drive has operated as part of the UNC community for 32 years. Organizers said with Thursday’s added units, the drive’s historical collection stands at 35,545 units, meaning up to 106,635 patients have been impacted by the event. The traditional summer blood drive in June was also successful in raising its goal of unit donations.

Photo via Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill. does not charge subscription fees. You can support local journalism and our mission to serve the community. Contribute today – every single dollar matters.