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Blood drives see ‘good turnouts’

By Sue Sitter - | Jul 10, 2021

Sue Sitter/PCT DayLynn Schnieberbruns, phlebotomist for Vitalant, assists donor Vernice Brossart at the St. Mary’s Church blood drive, held at Rugby’s Calvary Evangelical Free Church.

The Vitalant mobile blood collection station stopped in Rugby for a second time in a week July 1 to meet a critical need for blood in North Dakota communities.

Vitalant staff had parked their blood mobile June 24 outside of Main Street Boutique in Rugby to collect blood in a drive organized by business owner Ashley Berg. They returned a week later to collect more blood at a drive organized by St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Knox, held at Rugby’s Calvary Evangelical Free Church.

Berg said the Vitalant staff was “really excited” about the results of the June 24 drive.

“They exceeded their goals and the (staff coordinating the collection for Vitalant) was really impressed,” Berg said. “She said historically, June is not good for collections and she was excited that we had the turnout we did.”

Wanda Follman, who called donors for the St. Mary’s drive, said she was happy with the turnout July 1.

“I had 60 slots open and got all of them filled,” Follman said, smiling. “Now, I’ve got four more walk ins already. There’s been a really good turnout. They’ve got six people here to do the blood collection. Normally, they only have four.”

“Vitalant has been calling people, too, for the blood drives because they’re in such dire need,” Follman added.

Jessica Yeomans, who supervised staff collecting blood July 1, said, “In summer, it’s really hard to get blood when we have a lot of people going on vacations and especially out here with farmers with their harvesting. so we have a shortage of donors coming in due to that.”

“But,” she added, “there’s also higher demand, because, again, people are on vacation. More people are traveling and there are more accidents this time of year.”

“So, it’s just kind of really hard to get some people in because they’re busy with their schedules or they’re gone,” Yeomans added.

Yeomans said Vitalant’s mobile blood collection unit stops in Rugby “every eight weeks.”

“We’ll be here again on August 30. We have branches in Minot, Bismarck and Fargo. Rugby and Devils Lake, we go every eight weeks,” she said, adding, “There are some places in between that have smaller drives, like at the VFW halls or other places.”

Donating blood “makes a massive difference,” Yeomans said. “If you have any kind of major trauma that needs blood, many of them don’t need just one unit of blood. Some people can go through 30 units of blood, so it could take 30 people to save someone’s life. In the OR, if something happens that’s not routine, they can go through many units of blood.”

“When you donate whole blood, we get a full unit of red cells as well as a unit of plasma,” Yeomans added. “You can save up to three lives with a blood unit.”

“It’s really important to get more people to donate blood,” Yeomans noted. “For example, we have about a three-day supply of type O blood in hospitals nationwide. We really need to keep that up.”

Blood type O is known as “The Universal Donor” because it can be used by people with types A, B, AB or O blood.

Additionally, Yeomans said people whose blood is negative for the Rh factor should consider “doing a double,” or donating through a process called apheresis, which separates plasma from red blood cells.

“Apheresis is really nice, because it saves us time to get the product out,” Yeomans said. “It doesn’t have to go to the lab to be processed. The machine processes it for us.”

Yeomans said “With type O blood, the plasma’s not as useful, but the red cells are. So, if you do a double as a type O donor, we’re getting two full units of type O blood that they usually use in the ER if a patient comes in and they don’t have time to type the blood – they’ll pull an O unit out of the fridge.” “If you’re an AB donor, we don’t want to use your red cells but we want to use your plasma, because AB is a universal plasma donor,” Yeomans added. “So, we take what we want and we give you back what’s less useful.”

Vitalant’s blood mobile will next stop in Rugby Aug. 30.

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