Need for blood donation desperate

Local sites offer plenty of options 

Kym Steffes, sales representative with The Rockford Squire newspaper, takes time out of her day to make a real difference in a stranger’s life—donating blood. Over 100 people took the time to donate—a good turnout.

Julie Buehler of Our Lady of Consolation Church (OLC) and School, said Michigan Blood donates $10 to the school’s youth program for every person who attempts to donate blood at the twice-annual blood drives there. This year, a larger-than-normal shortage in blood caused the organization to add another drive. The next opportunity to donate at OLC will be on October 20 from noon to 7 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments make things run more smoothly.

The blood drive is just one of many community events that take place on the church property throughout the year, which makes the church a good community neighbor. About 1,700 families are members and 160 students are enrolled in the school, which is pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

OLC was founded in 1971 as an offshoot of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church in Belmont. The affiliated churches share many resources, including the nuns of the Consolata Missionary Sisters, who celebrated their 100th year as an order in 2010.

The sisters were brought here from Italy in the 1960s by Msgr. Podjeski from their mother house in Turin, Italy. In addition to Belmont, the order has 12 missionaries throughout the world, including parishes in the most impoverished areas of Alabama. The sisters came here, studied for their calling at Aquinas College and then became any number of professionals, from teachers to social workers or nurses. Nancy Prominski and Paul Sobie, who shared this information about the two churches and their missionary sisters, called the Consolata sisters “a wonderful order and a gift from God.”

The church works well with Michigan Blood, which keeps local donations right here in West Michigan. While being prepped to give blood, donors are tested for anemia. Blood cells are separated after donation into red and white blood cells. Plasma can be frozen and saved for use at a later date.

Surprisingly, CoCo Wheats are an excellent source of iron, which enriches red blood cells. Also useful are broccoli, raisins and grapes.

Steffes, who is a regular blood donor, said more people would enjoy giving if they try it once. “It makes you feel really good,” she said of the donation, which can literally be a gift of life.

Donations are always needed more in summer, when regulars are often on vacation and miss donating and need tends to be higher. It is also a time to get to see others who donate and learn about the people who handle blood donations for Michigan Blood.

The nurse who drew Steffes’ blood is interested in journalism as her brother is a journalist. He wrote for some Michigan newspapers before ending up in Washington, where he is the Bureau Chief of the Washington Post. “He rode with Joe Biden in Air Force Two,” she stated.

Michigan Blood has monthly blood drives at the Rockford Community Cabin, 220 N. Monroe Street, and at the Rockford American Legion Post off Northland Drive. You can find times and dates on the Michigan Blood website at www.miblood.org, including a variety of other information such as the following:

• Blood makes up about 7% of your body’s weight.

• A newborn baby has about one cup (8 ounces) of blood in his or her body.

• There are four main blood types: A, B, AB and O. AB is the “universal recipient” and O negative is the “universal donor.”

• Shortages of all types of blood most often occur during summer and winter holidays.

• Giving blood will not decrease your strength.

• You cannot get AIDS or any other infectious disease by donating blood.

• More than 4.5 million patients need lifesaving blood transfusions each year in the U.S. and Canada.

• 43,000 pints of donated blood are used each day in the U.S. and Canada.

• Every three seconds, someone needs blood.

• On average, one out of every seven people entering the hospital will need blood.

• Blood banks often run short of type O and B blood.

• The average red-cell transfusion amounts to 2.7 pints.

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