February 10, 2016

Alex's 14th Birthday Blood Drive


The amazing power of social media can be seen on any given day as we scroll through our news feeds and the latest tweets from around the world. But it can also be seen right here in our own community.

WBTV’s Anchor Molly Grantham made a post on her Facebook page Jan. 23 asking for help with a birthday wish for a 13-year-old in Salisbury. Less than 30 minutes later, the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas (CBCC) had seen the post and was forming a plan. Grantham was able to connect CBCC with the boy’s mother, Leanne Smith Yates, so she could hear his story and, ultimately, have the opportunity to help make his wish come true.

When Alex Yates’ parents asked him what he wanted for his 14th birthday, he had to think about it. In years past, Alex asked for an Xbox game or a toy. But this year, he asked for people to donate blood.

Alex was diagnosed with primary ciliary dyskinesia and immunodeficiency in 2008. There is no cure, but weekly transfusions of blood products make him feel better. And Alex knows that in order for him and others to get those transfusions, people have to donate.

Alex’s friends on the Catawba College men’s soccer team – of which Alex is an honorary member – know that too. Coach Ken Hassler and the teammates want to make sure Alex’s birthday wish comes true by working with Alex’s mom, Leanne, and CBCC to host a blood drive for his birthday. It will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15, in the Peeler Crystal Lounge at Catawba College in Salisbury.

Primary ciliary dyskinesia is a genetic disorder that affects the structure and function of the cilia that line the airways, ears, sinuses and some other structures. The tiny, hair-like structures are not able to effectively move mucus out of the airways, causing buildup that can lead to blockages and infections. Because of this, Alex has been taken out of school to limit his exposure to germs, and he relies on a feeding tube for most of his nutrients.

Alex celebrated his actual birthday Feb. 7, but he hopes everyone will come out Feb. 15 and donate blood to help children like him in our community lead happier, healthier lives.

Molly Grantham is heavily involved in Charlotte's cancer community and is constantly featuring amazing kids on her active Facebook page:

CBCC is an independent, nonprofit community blood center that is the primary blood supplier to the region’s patients and hospitals. For more information about hosting a blood drive or donating blood in your area, visit or call 704-972-4700.

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4447 South Boulevard

Charlotte, NC 28209

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