‘A good way to help people’: Woman has donated more than 4 gallons in the last 20 years

Published 9:00 pm Friday, January 20, 2023

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Area resident Angie Fickett has given the gift of life for 20 years.

In what she remembers being a school drive, Fickett donated blood for the first time when she was 18 years old.

“It’s a good way to help people,” she said of why she decided to donate. “And it doesn’t cost money.”

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She has continued to donate over the years and has thus far given 35 pints — or just over 4 gallons of blood.

Fickett said she can donate three or four times a year, and in the last few years has done so regularly, oftentimes at blood drives at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea, where she works as the office coordinator at Fountain Centers. Over the years she has also donated at drives set up at Northbridge Mall or through the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office, among others.

She said she is thankful to know she has been able to give, and noted that when donating blood now, she is able to access where her blood went after it was collected. She referenced a recent blood donation going to the hospital in Fairmont while she has also seen some that were sent to New York.

In addition to having the good feeling about helping others, in recent years the American Red Cross has started rewarding donors with various incentives, such as gift cards, T-shirts and coffee mugs. She said she, personally, has received several gift cards through Amazon.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization also would test the donated blood for COVID-19 antibodies, so she was able to know if she had been asymptomatic but had the virus or whether she had not.

She encourages people who have never donated before to give it a try, though she knows some people are afraid of needles.

“Try it once, and if you don’t like it, you’ve saved up to three lives just by trying,” she said.

She also encouraged people to listen to their bodies when they donate. Donors are asked to stay for a brief time after their donation and eat a snack to make sure they are OK before going about the rest of their day.

Fickett said she used to donate in the middle of the day and then go back to work and now donates toward the end of the day so she can go home and rest afterward.

She said her 13-year-old son has come with her to several blood drives and is eager to start donating blood himself when he is older.

She tells people to allot about an hour for a donation — maybe less if they have filled out the preliminary forms online ahead of going to donate and depending on how well they are hydrated.

Donate now to keep blood stocked when winter weather hits hard

As National Blood Donor Month continues this January, the American Red Cross celebrates those who give blood to help save lives — especially now, as the organization works to ensure a stable blood supply amid the threat of icy winter weather and severe seasonal illness. Donors of all blood types — particularly type O blood donors, the most needed blood group by hospitals — are needed daily to meet demand.

The start of the new year is one of the most challenging times to collect enough blood products, despite the constant demand. One in seven patients entering a hospital will need a blood transfusion — yet only 3% of the public gives blood, according to a news release.

In partnership with the National Football League (NFL), those who come to give blood, platelets or plasma through Jan. 31 will be automatically entered to win a trip for two to Super Bowl LVII in Arizona, including access to day-of, in-stadium pre-game activities, tickets to the official Super Bowl Experience, round-trip airfare to Phoenix, three-night hotel accommodations (Feb. 10-13), plus a $500 gift card for expenses.

How to donate blood
Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.

Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.
Amplify your impact — volunteer

Another way to support the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross is to become a volunteer blood donor ambassador at Red Cross blood drives. Blood donor ambassadors help greet, check-in and thank blood donors to ensure they have a positive donation experience.

Volunteers can also serve as transportation specialists, playing a vital role in ensuring lifesaving blood products are delivered to nearby hospitals. For more information and to apply for either position, visit redcross.org/givetime.