LifeSouth employee, platelet donor with rare blood type gives often
By Erica Smith
For the Enquirer
Hartselle resident Kaleb Chambers, a LifeSouth Community Blood Center employee and longtime platelet donor, has a rare blood type that can help save the lives of babies.
“What makes Kaleb so special is not only does he work here as an employee at LifeSouth, but he has a rare blood type of AB+ CMV-,” explained Kami Mitchell, district community development coordinator for LifeSouth. “That means he is a universal platelet donor for babies. With Kaleb’s blood type, he can give to all babies’ blood types. Platelets are so needed.”
Chambers has donated platelets about every two weeks for the past six years. His first time was when LifeSouth came to Hartselle High School. He said he felt the need to donate “because of the mission that they had, what it does, what they’re going to use it (the blood) for.”
Chambers said he discovered his rare blood type after his third high school donation, when a phlebotomist informed him.
Chambers continues to give, he said, because it is important, and he feels like a hero since his rare blood type goes to babies who really need it.
Chambers said it feels important to give knowing that his platelets go to babies – “to know that it is going to a new life, to help them.”
Platelet donations are vital to adults as well.
“It’s the clotting factor in our blood, so those are mostly used for cancer patients because chemotherapy depletes the platelet count in their blood,” Mitchell said. “Anytime someone goes through chemotherapy, they have to have platelets there on hand. You think about all the people you know that have had cancer – they have had to have platelets.”
Chambers said he began working for LifeSouth after he learned about the importance of his own blood type.
“I became passionate about the mission LifeSouth has,” he said. “It became so important to me and something I wanted to be a part of it.”
Chambers works in hospital services. “It’s the shipping and delivery to the hospitals. We normally take care of the units and take them over to the hospitals when they’re in need, such as an emergency situation.”
Chambers also picks up units from blood centers and mobile sites and takes them to Madison, where they are stored at exact temperatures.
Mitchell said plasma has a year shelf life. Whole blood and red blood cells have a 42-day shelf life, and platelets have a seven-day shelf life. Mitchell said the whole blood is so needed at the hospitals that it never stays on the shelf for the full 42 days.
All LifeSouth centers have a donation goal each month. The Morgan County center and mobile units in Decatur, Mitchell said, had a goal of 564 pints of blood for December. From the report that came out from Dec. 1 through Dec. 17, 300 pints had been donated thus far, Mitchell said.
“We like to tell you, when you donate whole blood, you save three lives,” she said. “What makes LifeSouth so important is we are your community blood center. If you give blood with LifeSouth, you can rest assured that your blood is going to stay right here in Decatur, saving local lives.”
Mitchell said it is important to give as often as possible.
“You never know when you or someone you love might be in need of blood products,” Mitchell pointed out. “If no one gives, then there’s no blood at our hospitals.”