Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Oct. 8, 2001

Blood, bone marrow drive brings high turnout

By Patrice Waldron

The hope for a good turnout was realized Wednesday when the Winsted Fire Department hosted a bone marrow and blood drive.

The American Red Cross reported that 145 people came to the event, 13 people were deferred, and 126 usable units of blood were collected. Of those donating blood, 21 people were first-time donors.

"The people from the Red Cross were impressed by the high number of first-time donors," reported Winsted Fire Chief Paul Herbolsheimer.

"The drive was quite a success, we're all very pleased with the turn-out," Herbolsheimer said.

Firefighters usually react to situations, whether it's an accident, a medical call, or a structure fire. When their pagers go off, they respond.

Herbolsheimer wanted to do something proactive for the community, rather than just reactive. That's how the idea of having a bone marrow drive came about.

Putting the event together required the efforts of many people, and Herbolsheimer was the driving force behind everything.

The American Red Cross of St. Paul was the agency involved with collecting the units of blood, and Russ Rooney of the Red Cross marrow donor program worked with Herbolsheimer before and during the event to provide information about having one's name added to the Nation Marrow Donor Registry.

The day of the drive, people showed up before the drive even started, Herbolsheimer said.

They were like many across the nation, trying to do what they can, rolling up their sleeves and donating blood.

It was a wonderful sight, driving up to the Winsted fire hall, the fleet of fire trucks parked outside, the American Red Cross truck parked by the building, and the parking lot filled with the cars of donors.

"There's been a steady stream of people all day," Herbolsheimer said.

When the plans were being made for the bone marrow drive, it was learned that it is substantially cheaper to host a blood drive/bone marrow drive, rather than just a bone marrow drive.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, the Red Cross has been bombarded with people wanting to donate blood. The Oct. 3 drive in Winsted proved to be good timing all around.

Some of the people who were at the drive chose only to have a blood sample collected to place their names on the National Bone Marrow Registry, some donated blood, and many donated to both groups.

The Red Cross, because of the massive number of people donating blood, is maxed out on the number of units of blood they can process, explained one Red Cross worker. Employees are working overtime in order to keep up with the demand to process all the units.

The Red Cross is trying to limit the number of units collected to the number needed to reach the collection goal set by the organization sponsoring the drive.

"Today we're letting the donations continue because it's personal. People need the psychological aspect of donating. They are helping, they are doing something," said Judy Slindee, Team Supervisor, Mankato Regional Team.

There's a little girl in Winsted who had a bone marrow transplant this summer, making people more aware of the need for bone marrow donors. When people can see such a need in their community, they want to do something to help. Joining the national registry or donating blood are ways to help.

There were first-time donors, such as high schoolers, who at age 17 are able to donate for the first time. There were also donors who have donated gallons of blood, pint by pint over many years.

"I heard about the drive, so I decided to come over," said Mark Schmidt of Glencoe.

I like to donate blood. I'm from Glencoe, but I'll travel to neighboring communities, such as Silver Lake, Lester Prairie, or Winsted, so I can make an extra donation, Schmidt explained.

Most communities in this area sponsor three blood drives a year, but people are physically able to donate a unit of blood every 56 days, or four times a year.

When asked about the wait, some knew how long the donation process usually takes, but understood the extra wait today. Participants seemed more pleased that they came, than put-out by the wait to donate.

There was a group of regular Winsted Red Cross volunteers who helped before the event by coordinating volunteers, taking reservations,and distributing event posters to area businesses. At the event, volunteers helped with registration, served refreshments to the donors, and provided other assistance as well.

Some people have been helping with area blood drives for many years. Margie Kritzeck, who is the coordinator for the Winsted blood drives, has been a Red Cross volunteer for 27-years. JoLynn Cafferty has worked with Kritzeck for the past three years.

Mae Stifter and Alvina Fiecke were other familiar faces at the blood drive. The two have spent many years helping with drives, and today helped with donor registration. Fiecke stated that she has been an American Red Cross volunteer since 1961, and served as chairman for 15 years.

Each person who volunteers at a such a large event works to make it successful for all.

"There was great support from so many people. We appreciate the efforts of the workers, the donors, the fire department members, those who donated refreshment, and all of the people behind the scenes," Kritzeck said.

"There was an excellent turn-out for the event. Everyone who comes to the blood/bone marrow drive is appreciated. Not every person who shows up will be allowed to donate, but it is important that they cared enough to even try," Kritzeck concluded.

Rooney, from the American Red Cross Donor Marrow Program, answered donor questions before blood samples for the program were taken.

Sometimes there are health questions which need to be answered to determine eligibility, and some people come to the drive to learn more about the bone marrow donation program, and that information is given as well, Rooney explained.

Donors must also sign a consent form. A donor card goes home with each participant, as a reminder to contact us if there's change in one's health which may prevent them from being a donor, or if a person decides that for whatever reason, they want their name removed from the registry, Rooney said.

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