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Blood drive to be held for boy’s 16th birthday

SALISBURY — The Catawba College men’s soccer team and the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas are partnering again this year to wish a local boy a happy birthday.

The two groups will host a blood drive Feb. 20 in honor of Alex Yates, who deals with primary ciliary dyskinesia and common variable immune deficiency. Alex will turn 16.

Alex is an honorary member of the soccer team. In a 2016 interview, mother Leanne Yates said Alex met soccer players through Team Impact, an organization that connects kids with chronic or life-threatening illnesses with local college sports teams. The soccer team volunteered to take Alex on as an “unofficial mascot,” and he became its No. 1 fan.

That year, Alex asked if he could have a blood drive for his 14th birthday. The team and his family agreed. Between 35 and 50 donors braved cold weather to give blood. Alex stood by with the team, chatting and opening presents.

Alex receives weekly blood infusions, and the medicine that keeps him healthy is made from plasma and other blood products. According to the 2016 article, it takes 30 plasma donors to make a single dose of the medicine.

The blood drive will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 20 at Catawba College.

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