Local mom now volunteers at UNC blood drives after twins saved by transfusions

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — Nine-year-old Ella and Sebastian Smith are inseparable and adored by their parents Annette Cytryn-Smith and Bob Smith, but the twins were born 10 weeks early and spent months in the NICU where they received blood transfusions that saved their lives.

RELATED: Red Cross, CBS North Carolina team up for 100th anniversary blood drives

“I had been working at UNC at the time that I had them and I knew that UNC had the blood drive,” said Cytryn-Smith. “I had never participated before but just seeing that these transfusions that they had to get really saved their lives I felt the need to also help.”

Cytryn-Smith volunteers at UNC’s blood drives that are held twice a year. She also makes sure to donate blood at least twice a year and she’s also a member of their committee.

“It’s even more eye-opening seeing how much work actually goes into putting it all together,” said Cytryn-Smith.

Cytryn-Smith says she didn’t realize until she got behind the cause how much of a difference just one donation can make.

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“Every donation can save up to three lives, so one person could’ve donated to help save both of my kids,” she said. “So just that alone I think really sparked my interest in continuing to donate because you never know who could use it at a moment’s notice.”

Cytryn-Smith says if given the chance to speak to the person who donated the blood that saved her twins, she’d tell them, “I am eternally grateful because without their donation I don’t know what would’ve happened, so I couldn’t thank them enough.”

The twins say they’re grateful to the donor too and they plan to follow in their mother’s footsteps and volunteer with the Red Cross.

“I think that’s nice and it takes heart and love to donate blood because you never know who might need it and that was really nice of them,” said Sebastian Smith.

Friday’s blood drive will go from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will be at the Crab Tree Valley Mall in Raleigh and from 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Northgate Mall in Durham.

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