A life-saving gift

Scott Hoerr donates blood during the Sabetha Community Blood Drive on Tuesday, April 4.
This is one of the fliers from the “Hurts Less Than” campaign that addresses a person’s fear of pain with blood donation.

Have you wondered if there is something you could do to help others? Maybe the answer is — blood donation! If you have never donated blood or have not given for awhile, now would be a great time to give the gift of blood, if you are able. There is always a need for blood donors and right now is especially critical due to the recently announced blood emergency. Donors of all blood types are needed, especially those with blood types O-, O+ and B-, which are at “dangerously low levels.”

“The Blood Emergency was declared at the beginning of March as a result of lower than expected donations at the beginning of 2023. The main contributing factors are cold and flu season, a high number of lapsed blood donors and a decrease in first-time donors,” said Community Blood Center Account Manager Guy Niederhauser. “In January, CBC [Community Blood Center] received 2,000 fewer blood donations than the year prior and blood donations are below hospital and patient needs.”

The COVID-19 pandemic affected the amount of blood donations due to several reasons.

“The number of blood donations are still not back to pre-pandemic levels. Compounding the problem is a continued lag in first-time and youth donors, which remain about half of pre-pandemic levels,” Guy said. “And while remote workers are returning to in-person work, office and community blood drives and visits to CBC Donor Centers are significantly down.”

A community that gives

Guy and Blood Drive Chairperson Lyla Edelman agree that Sabetha does a great job of donating blood and is a very giving community.

“Throughout the pandemic when folks couldn’t give blood in the three most common places they donate — at work, church and in school, Community Blood Center relied heavily on towns like Sabetha that stepped up and stayed the course when it came to donating blood through the community blood drives. Sabetha’s donors played an out-sized role in keeping our local hospitals supplied and our patients cared for,” Guy said.

The community of Sabetha continues to be consistent with donors and reaching goals.

“We do see many of the same donors, but at each drive it seems we have some new donors,” Lyla said. “Overall, I feel Sabetha does a good job with donating blood — we usually meet the goal set by the Community Blood Center.”

Guy would like everyone to know what a great asset Lyla is to the blood drives here in Sabetha.

“I couldn’t be more lucky to have her [Lyla] as my Chairperson for the Sabetha Community blood drives,” Guy said. “Community Blood Center owes Lyla a debt of gratitude for continuing to organize and provide a space for Sabetha’s donors to come together and continue to give when the need was at its utmost.”

The next Generation

The Sabetha High School has continued to have two blood drives during the school year — one in the fall and one in the spring. The CBC offers scholarships and other programs to encourage new younger blood donors to help meet the population’s needs.

“For the high school drives, we offer college scholarship opportunities of over $1,000, all students can enter the Gallon Grad program which encourages students to donate a total of a gallon of blood before graduation [eight pints] to show their support for their community and commitment to giving back in order to receive a certificate of achievement, a red graduation cord, and a raffle for a laptop, as well as a Bloodstock program in which high school students are encouraged to set up their own blood drives and can earn further money towards college endeavors,” Guy said.

Guy shares a few facts about blood donation related to young people.

“Thirty percent of all donated blood comes from high schools. Anyone 16 years or older can donate [with parent permission],” Guy said. “One donation can save up to three individual lives. Of all those eligible to donate blood, only four to seven percent actually do so. We need the next generations to join us in the fight to keep the blood supply stable. It is easy, hurts less than a pin prick, and will save the lives of your friends, family and neighbors. One in three people will need a blood transfusion at some point in their lives. We are all in this together.”

To give or not to give

There are good reasons to donate blood, as well as reasons that some cannot, as Lyla reminds that there are some who have medical issues that prevent them from donating blood. Other reasons include certain medications, such as blood pressure medications and antibiotics.

According to Guy, the number one reason that people do not donate blood is “they aren’t asked to,” and another prominent reason is the pain.

“There is often fear of needles or the pain associated with the process, but in reality that is all very minimal and never lives up to the anticipation,” Guy said.

In the CBC’s latest “Hurts Less Than” campaign, they touch on the humorous side with posters that suggest scenarios that hurt more than giving blood, such as “waving back at someone who isn’t waving at you,” “cracking your phone screen” and “a cornhole bag to the shin.”

The reasons to give blood far outweigh the excuses that one might come up with.

“I think people donate because they know it is a special feeling knowing they are helping to save a life,” Lyla said.

“The truth is that the real reason to give is that we can’t make human blood in a lab and the only way to save patients in need is to give it ourselves,” Guy said. “Giving blood is a selfless act of kindness and compassion for your community, your family, and potentially yourself in the future.”

Another reason to consider donating is knowing that your blood could save the life of someone you know.

“Community Blood Center donations first and foremost serve local hospitals in northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri including Stormont Vail, KU, Children’s Mercy and Sabetha Community Hospital,” said Marketing Manager Chelsey Smith. “If the local hospital need is met and we have a surplus of blood products, we may share with our sister centers or any centers in the country that may be in need. Additionally, during times of crises [i.e. natural disasters, mass shootings], we may step in to help other blood centers that may be in need of additional support. However, we can only share these valuable resources if our local hospital needs are met first.”

Make a difference

There is an ongoing need for blood, and every gift is appreciated. If you have never donated before, you are cordially invited to consider signing up for the next blood drive. If you have given in the past but have not been back for a while, now is a perfect time to consider coming back.

The blood drives in Sabetha are held every eight weeks. Donors are encouraged to make an appointment by visiting www.savealifenow.org/group and using Group Code: TPK7. For additional details, contact Lyla Edelman at 785-284-2477 or at lylamaeedelman@gmail.com.

If you are not sure if you are eligible to donate, you can visit the CBC website at www.savealifenow.org to see a list of common reasons people are deferred. You can also call the eligibility line to discuss your individual circumstances at 1-800-688-0900.


Julie Shafer39 Posts

Julie Shafer is a reporter for The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2021. Julie lives in Morrill with her husband and three of her five children.


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