Sunday, October 2, 2022

Medford students get chance to save lives

Medford students and staff members donated 61 pints of blood during last week’s American Red Cross blood drive sponsored by the National Honor Society. Those units have the potential to save up to 183 lives, as one pint can save up to three lives. 

Senior Matthew Anderson knows the importance of donating all too well. Recently his brother had to undergo a blood transfusion after he suffered complications from weight-loss surgery. 

Anderson has donated blood four times — three times as a double red-cell donor instead of a single whole-blood donor. Anderson continues to do blood drives because he wants to help kids who need it.

“I want to give more and have more of an impact,” he said. 

Amber Swing, team collections supervisor, explained the difference between a single and double donation. 

“A single unit, we get a whole concentrated unit of blood so you take the red blood cells, the plasma and the platelets. A double red cell unit, you take the red cells and give the donor back their plasma and platelets, and we do the draw twice,” she said. 

Whereas a single takes five to 15 minutes, a double takes 30 to 45 minutes. Many donors do the double because they can make twice the difference. Others choose the double because it means having to donate fewer times. 

For example, double red cell donors can donate every 112 days up to three times a year, versus 56 days for whole blood donors. 

Swing has worked for Red Cross for nearly eight years and chose to go into the field because of the effect her profession has on people. “I enjoy meeting new people, and it is always a changing work environment,” she said. “I like listening to donors’ stories. Even though some aren’t always happy endings, there are a lot that are the happy endings or people that come in and donate even though their loved one died.” 

Swing stressed that donating is extremely important because Red Cross has specific goals it has to meet. 

“Every unit that we collect is already spoken for from a hospital, because we are contracted to give them ‘X’ amount of units, so having blood drives is important, having donors is important and making our goals is important,” she said. 

When donors arrive to the drive, they register on the computer system and read a pamphlet listing reasons they might not be able to donate, including age, weight, having a cold, traveling outside the country and vaccinations. 

Donors then are asked a series of questions and given a miniature physical in which their temperature, pulse, height and weight are recorded. After the donor is cleared, the blood is drawn, and when it is over, the donor is sent to eat snacks.

“It is not that bad. A lot of people just don’t come in because they either A.) have a fear of needles, or B.) they think it hurts really bad, and it is not that bad,” Swing said. 

Sophomore Steven Luebben was one of those people. This year he decided to give blood for the first time and said, “It is not as bad as everyone says it is. It is pretty easy, and it is not painful.” 

“I enjoy donating. It has always been an interest of mine, and you can save lives. Your body makes more than you need, and there are people out there who really need it.” 

Luebben’s friend Asberry Thoreson also decided to give blood for the first time and agreed that it wasn’t as bad as he had expected. 

“Everybody needs blood at some point in their lives. If one person can make it through life and not have a single accident, they are extremely lucky,” he said.

Junior Marnie Madsen has donated at least four times. “I don’t mind giving blood. It is a good way to help people out that are less fortunate than me,” she said. 

“If there is something you can do for somebody, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t do it. One day you may be the one in need. Plus it gets you out of class, so that is a bonus.”

Madsen added: “I think a lot of people are afraid of the needles and scared it will be painful, but it is really not that bad. I thought the worst part was when they pricked my finger in the beginning.” 

The American Red Cross holds about 4,700 blood drives a year in Minnesota, western Wisconsin and eastern South Dakota. Someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion every two seconds, meaning Red Cross must collect an average of 14,000 pints of blood each day to meet the need. 

Although Medford School has had its two blood drives for the year, there are numerous others coming up in the Owatonna area including at Lowe’s on April 13, Family Video on April 18, Riverland Community College and Trinity Lutheran Church on April 20 and Owatonna Hospital on May 8. For more information about blood drives, go to redcross.org or download the application.

Dodge County Independent

Dodge County Independent
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Kasson, MN 55944

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