Blood Donations Needed

Chance to make a difference by donating blood, volunteering at Shelby County blood drives

    COUNTY -- Want to help save lives by donating blood? Looking for an opportunity to volunteer? There will be multiple opportunities this summer in Shelby County to do both as 10 Red Cross blood drives are scheduled from June to September in the county.
    According to Josh Murray, Regional Communications Director with the American Red Cross - Nebraska-Iowa Region the hospital demand for blood products has increased by 30 percent.
    “The American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood donations to prevent another blood shortage as hospitals resume surgical procedures and patient treatments that were temporarily paused earlier this spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Murray.
    “In recent weeks, hospital demand for blood products has grown by 30 percent after sharply declining in early April amid this rapidly changing and complex public health crisis. At the same time, blood drives continue to be canceled as many businesses and community organizations remain closed. Donors are needed to make and keep scheduled appointments to help meet the current need.”
    On the local level, Myrtue Medical Center CEO Barry Jacobsen said MMC maintains an adequate blood supply.
    “Myrtue maintains an adequate blood supply to ensure availability for any situation in which someone may need to receive blood. We have a good supply, though there is more urgent need for blood and platelets throughout the country. We rely on donors and the American Red Cross to replenish our local blood supply, and donors are needed to generously give blood,” said Jacobsen.
    Murray said each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control. To ensure the health of staff and donors, precautions include:
    • Checking temperatures of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy.
    • Providing hand sanitizer for use before entering the drives, as well as throughout the donation process.
    • Following social distancing between donors including entry, donation and refreshment areas.
    • Ensuring face masks or coverings are worn by both staff and donors.
    • Routinely disinfecting surfaces, equipment and donor-touched areas.
    • Wearing gloves, and changing gloves often.
    • Using sterile collection sets and an aseptic scrub for every donation.
Always looking for new donors, volunteers
    The Harlan Red Cross blood drive committee includes Sue Smith, blood program leader and coordinator of marketing; Mary Illg, coordinator of volunteers; Jan Wilwerding, coordinator of appointments; and Janice Klein, coordinator of the canteen. Both Smith and Illg have volunteered for 20 or more years while Wilwerding and Klein have been volunteers for the last few years.
    Smith says appreciation is given to the committee, volunteers over the years, and most of all, the donors as they could not have the blood drive without them. The Harlan Red Cross blood drive has had 90 drives throughout the years with 10,476 units of blood collected (an average of 116 units collected in a drive).
    “The Harlan Community Blood Drive was second to Carroll Community drive to collecting units of blood in the region (Western Iowa and eastern Nebraska) for the last two years (2018 and 2019). This includes the Council Bluffs/Omaha area drives. We have had 10,976 donors, with 636 doing Power Reds (giving two units of blood at a time). We have had 277 new donors over the years,” said Smith.
    Four people from the county, Les Blum, Lanny Petsche, Vernon Raasch, and Spike Kloewer, have given more than 25 gallons of blood through the years.
    “It is really easy to give blood, taking usually an hour of your time with free snacks. We are the only drive that serves sandwiches. Linda Fahn makes the county famous egg salad for those sandwiches. Many businesses, churches and persons donate food and water for our canteen as well. You need to be at least 16 years of age, be in good health and feeling well and weigh at least 110 pounds. We are always looking for new donors as our donors that cannot give is larger than new donors coming in. Donors can give at any of the Red Cross drives in the area, but they are encouraged to make an appointment. You can call the Red Cross at 1-800 Red Cross (733-2767); visit and download the app or call me at 712-755-5725,” said Smith.
    The Harlan Community Red Cross blood drive is held six times a year at Veteran’s Auditorium in Harlan. Many Shelby County towns as well as businesses such as CDS and Myrtue Medical Center and the schools also have blood drives.
    The following are dates and times for upcoming area Red Cross blood drives:
    Defiance - July 30  - noon - 6 p.m. at St. Peter’s Hall
    Earling - June 29  - noon - 6 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Hall
    Elk Horn - July 28 - 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. at Elk Horn Lutheran Church; September 22 - 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. at Elk Horn Lutheran Church
    Harlan - July 21 - 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. at Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium; September 29  - 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. at Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium
    Portsmouth - August 25 - noon - 6 p.m. at Portsmouth Community Hall
    Shelby - August 1 - 7:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at Shelby Community Building
    Westphalia - July 22  - 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. at St. Boniface Parish Center; September 16 - 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. at St. Boniface Parish Center
    Smith said information taken from the Red Cross website states for a limited time, the American Red Cross will test all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies as an additional health service to donors.
    New volunteers to assist at the Red Cross blood drives are always welcome. Smith said it really has nothing to do with the actual obtaining of blood and it doesn’t take much of time. Anyone who is interested in volunteering is asked to contact Smith.


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