5 ways to pay it forward: Donate life
Red Cross in need of blood donors and blood drive volunteers
Editor’s note: This is the second in a five-part series about ways to pay it forward in the community during November, the month of giving.
One way to pay it forward that can have life-saving impacts on other people in a short amount of time is donating blood.
By taking about one hour out of their day and giving one pint of blood, donors can save as many as three lives. While donors can only give blood once every two months, even one donation can have a lasting impact.
Dustin Jacobs, a regular donor for at least 10 years, said he does it because it’s the most selfless thing anyone can do to help somebody else.
“Someday I might need it,” Jacobs said. “And I hope that somebody else goes and donates so it’s there if I ever need it, or my family needs it, or anyone I know. It’s the most generous thing you can do. It doesn’t take that much time. It might hurt just a tiny bit, but it’s not unbearable. It’s really pretty easy.”
According to Dave Kelley, the Red Cross account manager for Freeborn County, there is a 60 to 70% chance that a person or someone they might know will need a blood donation during their lifetime.
“We tell donors, that patient in the hospital is somebody’s mom, dad, sister, brother, friend, cousin,” Kelley said. “Most of the blood we collect goes to fighting cancer, but organ transplants, premature babies, knee and hip replacements all require blood transfusions. You’re touching patients lives in our local hospitals. You’re helping people out.”
The American Red Cross hosts many blood drives throughout the area and anyone interested in donating is encouraged to sign up at redcrossblood.org. There are some medical issues that might keep some people from donating, but as long as donors are over 110 pounds and are in good health on the day of the donation, almost anyone can donate. Donors are also encouraged to come to the drive well hydrated and having eaten a good meal beforehand.
Even if someone was exempt from donating, there are still ways to help at the drive. According to Jan Birkhofer, the volunteer coordinator at the Bridge Community Church blood drives, anyone who wants to help can either sit at the registration table and greet donors as they arrive or in the canteen, serving people snacks and making sure they are doing well after their donation.
Birkhofer has been a blood donor herself for nearly 47 years and is coming up on her 100th donation. She started donating in college when the Red Cross came to her campus.
“It saves people’s lives,” Birkhofer said. “It’s so easy and yet so crucially important. I know that there is a great shortage right now. It scares me to think of how low the supply is. Everyone who is eligible needs to be making an effort. It’s so easy and you can save three lives with one donation.”
Upcoming blood drives
Nov. 8: Round Prairie Lutheran Church, Glenville, 1-7 p.m.
Nov. 14: Shoe Sensation, Albert Lea, noon-6 p.m.
Nov. 18: Grace Lutheran Church, Albert Lea, noon-6 p.m.
Nov. 22: Agilis, Albert Lea, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Nov. 22: St. Theodore Catholic Church, Albert Lea, 3-7 p.m.
A full listing of upcoming blood drives can be found at redcrossblood.org