Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, May 4, 1998

McLeod is important county for blood donations


On March 29, a child dies in St. Peter, killed by the tornado.

Later an elderly man dies from his injures. The insurance companies estimate $175 million dollars in "insurable" damage.

Two weeks later, when the tornadoes caused destruction and death across Arkansas, and later, Tennessee, here in Minnesota we could see we had blessings to be counted.

But, what if tornadoes had reigned not just havoc, but severe injury in Minnesota? What if Red Cross did not have enough blood?

Today from 1-7 p.m., the Red Cross Bloodmobile will be at the city office in Lester Prairie, and donors in McLeod County are vitally important to the blood drive.

"McLeod County is one of our most important counties," said Larry Weiser, Red Cross donor representative.

McLeod County ranks seventh in terms of the number of units of blood collected of the 104 counties covering most of Minnesota and portions of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

The six counties that produce more blood - Anoka, Blue Earth, Dakota, Ramsey, Stearns, and Washington - have much larger populations than McLeod County.

Blood is not just needed for when disaster strikes, but is needed everyday.

According to Robert Bowman, M.D., chief executive officer of North Central Blood Services of the American Red Cross, blood is needed for emergency transfusions, to treat premature infants and cancer patients and for surgeries such as hip and knee replacements and organ transplants.

The need for blood is perpetual, because unlike most medical necessities, blood cannot be stockpiled as red blood cells last for only 42 days.

Type O blood is always needed, because demand is consistently higher than supply. Forty-one percent of people in the five-state area have type O blood, but 45 percent of the blood collected by the Red Cross needs to be type O in order to adequately meet hospital needs.

Type O blood is the real life saver. People with type O negative blood are called universal donors, this means people with type O, type A, type B and type AB can all receive type O negative blood.

In an emergency when there is no time for routine typing and cross matching, or if supplies are low of other types of blood, type O negative blood may be transfused.

People with type O positive blood can give to patients with type A positive, B positive, or AB positive. Of course, the best scenario is for people to receive their own blood type, there for all blood types are constantly needed.

The requirements to be a blood donor are few: be at least 17 years old, in good general health and weigh 110 pounds or more.

A person in good general health can give blood every 56 days, which the Red Cross asks people to do, because of bloods perishability.

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