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Memorial blood drive set for Sunday

Everyone knows about the need to donate blood, which usually is portrayed as rolling up one’s sleeve and adding to a supply at a storage facility where it eventually will be transfused into some anonymous patient.

Yet the true importance of this hits home when there is a face attached to the need, when a recipient is someone known in the community who is depending on that life-sustaining substance for survival.

Such a patient was Michael Hardy of Mount Airy, who died on Dec. 16 after battling leukemia, but whose experience is serving as an inspiration to help others in a similar crisis.

Area residents are invited to donate blood in Hardy’s memory during a special American Red Cross drive on Sunday. It is scheduled from 12:30 to 5 p.m. at Bannertown Baptist Church, 1834 Westfield Road.

The memorial drive is being held as part of a partnership between the Red Cross and American Cancer Society during the month of February, according to Lynn Wilkes of the Carolinas Blood Services Region in Winston-Salem, which includes Surry County.

This partnership is highlighting the fact that patients fighting cancer use more blood than those suffering from any other disease, and there simply aren’t enough people donating regularly to meet the demand, officials say.

Illness made need “critical”

That need was evident with Hardy, who was 54 when he died in December, but before that was the beneficiary of countless units of blood and platelets.

His wife Ann recalls how her husband, a salesman for Mount Airy Toyota, went to the doctor in January of last year and learned that his blood count was low. This led to testing at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem.

“And they found out he had leukemia,” Ann Hardy said.

The need for blood products soon became evident.

“He probably went through well over 100 bags of blood and more than 75 units of platelets,” Mrs. Hardy said.

This was largely due, ironically, to the chemotherapy treatments the leukemia patient was undergoing in an effort to save his life.

Some days Hardy would require multiple bags of blood and platelet units as a result.

“He had to have it to get ready for the next treatment — it was critical,” Ann Hardy said of the chemo sessions. “It meant basically life or death.”

Because of the chemotherapy, “it took forever to get his blood counts back up,” she said of the reason why so much was needed.

While Michael Hardy lost his battle, the war is still going on, which will be evident with Sunday’s blood drive at Bannertown Baptist Church that is anticipated to collect 30 lifesaving donations.

At least two are in the bag, so to speak, since Ann Hardy is going to be there along with the couple’s daughter, Megan Hardy, 25, who works as a wedding planner. The family also includes son John, 22, an estimator for a company in California.

“My daughter and I have already signed up,” Ann Hardy explained.

Other prospective donors can make appointments by visiting or calling Sarah Simpson, the blood drive sponsor contact at Bannertown, at 336-789-2505.

Ann Hardy said she gave blood even before her husband was diagnosed with leukemia, but there is an extra dimension to that gesture these days.

“Now it feels like it’s my duty,” she commented. “It’s hard not to give blood and platelets knowing what it means to patients.”

This places extra emphasis on the significance of Sunday’s blood-collection event for people like her husband.

“It’s so very special to me, just because of what I’ve seen and the need for it — and not just for him.”

And Ann Hardy might like to think her late husband somehow will be at Sunday’s drive in spirit.

“He would be so thrilled that they’re doing this in honor of him.”

The cancer factor

Cancer patients use nearly one quarter of the available blood supply.

The units collected at a drive can help extend a patient’s time by a day, a week or even years, officials say.

A reliable supply is essential to fighting the disease, with transfusions giving patients the strength to keep fighting in some cases.

For the hour it takes to give blood, there could be a whole community of people thankful for another birthday provided for a loved one, officials stress.

Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.

In addition to making appointments there, the public can learn more about the process at the website or by downloading the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire is encouraged to help speed up the donation process. To get started, one can consult instructions at or use the Blood Donor App.

A donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in time.

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Mike Hardy Hardy

By Tom Joyce

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.



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