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Blood for Katherine

Former Miss University and recent Ole Miss graduate Katherine Barkett Byrd is in need of blood donations.

Katherine Barkett Byrd, 2011 Miss University and recent graduate of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at The University of Mississippi, has been diagnosed with hemolytic-uremic syndrome and is in critical condition at Baptist Hospital in Jackson.

Byrd will require a series of blood transfusions and is in need of donations through Mississippi Blood Services.

She requires AB+ plasma, which can only be donated by males, and blood of all types. However, AB+ and O+ types are especially needed.

Ole Miss students stepped up this past week to donate in Byrd’s name through Mississippi Blood Services in drives held in front of the Union on Nov. 7. The Oxford community also pitched in, giving at a blood drive hosted by Material Girls this past weekend.

Mississippi Blood Services continues to accept blood in Byrd’s name and will give her credit for all donations that mention her name and birthdate: Dec. 20, 1987.

Alex McDaniel, a Meek School graduate who now works as a reporter and social media coordinator at The Clarion-Ledger, said her memory of Katherine inspired her to get involved.

“Katherine and I knew each other in college, and we were never particularly close or anything like that, but we were journalists together,” McDaniel said. “She was just one of the most positive people that I ever knew.

“Every time I saw her in the newsroom, she was always smiling. She always kept me going. She could have a million stresses in her life, and I would have never known. From now until the day I die, I’m always going to remember her being that person for me.”

McDaniel was integral in establishing the hashtag #BloodforKatherine that has connected blood donors to the cause.

“Of course, my first reaction was to get to the blood bank to get her whatever she needs, but the second was strategic,” McDaniel said. “When I found out what was going on with her, because my job is rooted in social media and I have a blog that is gaining a following, I thought to make a hashtag to bind all of this together.

“I didn’t think that it was going to be a big thing, but I got on Twitter about an hour after posting and people were using the hashtag and it was awesome. People started reaching out to me in Jackson, who didn’t even know this girl, asking ‘What does she need?’ ‘Where do I go?’ and people got behind it.”

More information can be accessed online at https://www.facebook.com/bloodforkatherine and by searching #BloodforKatherine on Twitter.