Forrester and others with the American Red Cross have been encouraging residents to give at its blood drive July 17 at the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead and others around metro Atlanta.
Forrester, a Buckhead resident, was one of the 13 people injured in the 1999 Mark Barton day-trader office shootings in Buckhead that also claimed nine lives. At the time Forrester was working at her first job out of college, at All-Tech Investment Group, one of the Piedmont Center offices where the killing spree took place.
She was shot in the back and did not know what had happened until paramedics arrived.
“They cut my shirt and saw a purple mass on my abdomen trying to come through my skin. It was the bullet,” she said. “I needed two emergency surgeries that day. I needed 115 pints of blood and the human body [normally] holds 10. [The bullet] destroyed one of the main veins in my heart [the vena cava]. It hit my spine, my intestines and pancreas. … I was given a one in 1,000 chance of survival. I was in the hospital for a month and went to Shepherd Center [in Buckhead] and now I’m fully able to walk. The biggest miracle is I gave birth to two little girls [Brooke, 5, and Arden, 3].
“Another big kicker I always say is in the summertime we always have a blood shortage. Just two days before the shooting, the Atlanta blood bank did not have 115 pints of blood on hand. If [the shootings] had happened on that day, I would have died.”
Forrester, chairwoman of the American Red Cross’ Blood Services Southern region board, said she hopes her story motivates others to give blood next week.
In an email, region spokeswoman Kristen Stancil said the summer is the slowest time of the year for blood donations due to vacations and school being out.
“Also, college and high school students make up as much as 20 percent of donations during the academic year,” she said, adding the winter is also a slow season for giving blood due to the holidays and weather.
Stancil said the importance of donating blood never wanes.
“The need for blood is constant and the American Red Cross relies on volunteer donors to make sure it’s available when patients need it,” she said. “Patients don’t get a vacation or break from needing blood and rely on the generosity of volunteer donors. One blood donation could help save up to three lives and it’s an easy way to make a difference in someone else’s life.”
According to Stancil, the statistics on blood donation are alarming:
o About 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood but only 3 percent actually do.
o Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
o Red blood cells have a shelf life of only 42 days.
o The region, which covers most of Georgia and parts of South Carolina and Florida, requires about 1,200 people to give blood or platelets each week day to meet hospital demands.
Blood can be safely donated every 56 days, Stancil said. Forrester, who said she gives blood once every two months or less, hopes others will follow her lead.
“I would say there’s a 95 percent chance that all of us will need a unit of blood in our lifetime, and there is no substitute for it,” she said. “It has to be donated. I feel like it’s our responsibility to get a safe and adequate blood supply for the community.”
To find upcoming blood drives in your area, visit www.redcrossblood.org, click on the box at the top of the page to make a donation appointment and enter your zip code, mile radius and date range. Donors can also call 1-800-RED CROSS to find a donation location or schedule an appointment.
Locations and dates of upcoming area blood drives:
o The Terraces, 115 Perimeter Center Pl., Dunwoody: today from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
o Convergent, 219 Perimeter Center Pkwy., Dunwoody: today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
o Midtown Blood Donation Center, 1955 Monroe Drive, Atlanta: today from 2 to 6 p.m., Monday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., July 16 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and July 17 from noon to 7 p.m.
o Atlanta History Center, 130 W. Paces Ferry Rd., Buckhead: July 17 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
o Midtown Plaza, 1360 Peachtree St., Atlanta: July 16 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.