BY KATIE MATTESON
People donate their blood to places like the BloodCenter of Wisconsin for many reasons, as evidenced by the comments from a few of the 15 Racine Founders Rotary Club members who made donations during a blood drive held on Jan. 18 at the Racine Donor Center located on Sunnyslope Drive.
Tom Meyer, III, organizer of the semi-annual Rotary Club drive, made his first donation in 1990 during the time of the Gulf War as a way to support the troops. Since then he’s donated 19 gallons of blood and now donates platelets, which are used to help people battling cancer, or those with blood disorders such as sickle cell disease. He noted that every donation helps to save three lives.
Eric Olesen has been donating blood for 20 years and recently started taking the extra time necessary to give plasma, which helps newborns, transplant patients, burn victims and those with bleeding disorders. The donation is done through plasma apheresis, an automated process where the plasma is removed and the remaining components (platelets and red cells) are returned to the donor. Since plasma is replenished every 28 days, Olesen is able to donate more frequently instead of waiting the 56 days necessary between whole blood donations.
Jon Antonneau recruits members of his staff at David Insurance to participate in the blood drives. He views it as another team-building activity that has many benefits beyond the blood donations.
Steen Sanderhoff was compelled to give blood by his former boss at Leman, who made sure the trainee filled out an application to donate on his 18th birthday. It was a personal quest to enlist donors, as the boss’ fiance was killed by a drunk driver. Sanderhoff has continued the practice ever since.
Tom Meyers gave blood for the first time along with his father, when he made a donation in advance of surgery. He’s continued the practice for the past 20 years and said now that he’s older and is more limited physically, it’s something he still finds easy to do.
Bob Henken agrees that it’s an easy way to give back and is “really no big deal.”
John Busey is a 10-gallon donor and usually gives red blood cells or platelets.
Patrick Booth made his first blood donation at the recent drive. The chapter president said he felt motivated to donate because one of his employees needed a blood transfusion a few years ago, he was moved by a presentation given by a BloodCenter representative to the club and the passion exhibited by Meyer in coordinating the drives. Plus, as a leader he felt it was important to set a good example.
The BloodCenter counts on donations collected at its donor centers and community blood drives to maintain its blood supplies (platelets, plasma and red blood cells) which it provides to every hospital in Southeastern Wisconsin.
According to information provided by the BloodCenter of Wisconsin, 7,000 donations were collected from the Racine Donor Center in 2017 – 5,000 blood and 2,000 platelets). In addition, 152 community blood drives were held in Racine County with local business, schools and churches that yielded 4,633 blood donations.
Adam Rodriguez, who supervises both the Racine and Kenosha donor centers, said he and his staff are committed to creating a great experience for the donors.
He explained that donors may make appointment or simply walk in and plan on walking out after about 30 minutes.
Steps in the process include:
Registration (answering basic health questions and after a donor’s first donation, an ID number is assigned)
Medical Review (blood pressure, temperature, pulse and small drop of blood from finger to determine blood type and iron level)
Donate Blood (one pint drawn for donation taking just 10 minutes, plus another small amount for testing prior to releasing it to the blood bank)
Cafè time (brief rest with snacks and a beverage with extra fluids suggested for the rest of the day)
Blood donations are needed year ‘round, but are particularly needed over holidays and during the winter and summer months. Certain blood types like AB+ and AB- are always needed for plasma since all individuals can receive these blood types. Also, everyone can receive red blood cells from O- donors.
For more information, stop in the Racine Donor Center during its regular hours of Monday, 9 a.m – 6:30 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. – 6:30 p.m., Thursday 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Friday 7 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and Saturday 7:15 a.m. – noon. For prospective donors and for scheduling donations, call (877) 232-4376 (877-BE-A-HERO) or visit versiti.org.
BloodCenter of Wisconsin, part of Veristi, also includes Michigan Blood, Indiana Blood Center and Heartland Blood Centers (in Illinois).
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