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Blood drive coming to Rugby

By Staff | Feb 28, 2020

Saving lives doesn’t always require specialized training, a uniform or a super hero’s cape.

Sometimes, it’s as easy as rolling up a sleeve and making a fist.

A blood drive will be held in Rugby on Tuesday from noon-6 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of Calvary Free Evangelical Church, 305 4th St. SW. The blood drive will give Pierce County residents a chance to save lives with their donations.

Vitalant, formerly known as United Blood Services, will conduct the drive, sponsored by the Rugby Lions Club.

Vitalant Donor Coordinator Teresa Johnson, who oversees blood drives throughout northwestern North Dakota, told the Tribune, “Last week we had National Random Act of Kindness Day. So, I always say that donating blood is a random act of kindness. You’re not asking who it’s going to, what they believe in, color of their skin, where they live – you’re just giving something so important, you’re giving a piece of yourself, for someone else to live. You’re giving them the gift of life.”

“When we talk about the people that use our blood, we all know people who’ve been diagnosed with cancer,” Johnson added. “Approximately 40 percent of the blood that we collect goes to cancer patients who may need it during treatment. This is a great silent way to support them and their mission. Also, very easily, heart attack patients can go through 17 units of blood. If you know someone who possibly has an elective surgery planned – joint replacement or whatever that may be, those people all have the ability to use blood as well – people with clotting disorders.”

Johnson said blood donations make a powerful impact in the lives of premature babies.

“A premature baby has approximately a cup of blood through their entire body when they’re born, Johnson noted. “So, when you come in to do a whole blood donation at one of our locations, you have the ability to save 97 premature babies. When a baby is in dire need of blood it takes a teaspoon of healthy blood to save a premature baby’s life.”

“And when I tell people that,” Johnson added, “They’re like, ‘Really? Are you kidding me?’ It’s amazing how just one teaspoon makes a difference.”

Johnson said donors must meet a few qualifications before their blood goes into Vitalant’s blood supply, which is stored at the company’s blood bank in Fargo.

Johnson emphasized two main qualifiers for potential donors: “You have to be at least 16 years of age and you cannot be taking blood thinners or antibiotics. You have to be off antibiotics for at least 24 hours.”

“There’s a lot of misconceptions where people say, ‘I can’t donate if I have high blood pressure,’ or ‘I can’t donate if I’m diabetic.’ You can donate. A lot of my donors with high blood pressure actually feel better after they donate because, obviously, it’s a blood quantity thing, and your blood pressure’s going to be relieved,” Johnson noted. “You’re going to have a shot of energy.”

“If you’re diabetic, you’ll burn about 600 calories in about five minutes. With all my diabetic donors, I make sure to say they have to make sure they have control of their blood sugar level because their blood sugar is going to drop a little bit, so you have to be aware of that and correct that,” Johnson added.

“But, if you’re taking CBD, I don’t care; if you’re on antidepressants, I don’t care; if you’re on medications for birth control or high cholesterol, none of that matters. Antibiotics and blood thinners are the two number one reasons people don’t get to donate,” Johnson said.

“Rugby’s an amazing community,” Johnson said. “Rugby does a great job hosting blood drives. We have great donors throughout the Rugby area.”

“I would love to get into Rugby High School (for an educational presentation),” Johnson said.

“The reason it’s so important is high schools do amazing blood drives. So, the high schoolers that volunteer or donate at least three times during high school, we give them honor cords for their graduation. It’s a real big deal,” Johnson added.

“You guys have an amazing community, and if we could impact the blood drive with an influx of new donors, that would be amazing,” Johnson noted.

Those interested in donating blood can call Judy Jelsing of the Rugby Lions at (701) 208-0785 to sign up. Questions about donating may be directed to Vitalant at (877) 258-4825.

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