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Oct 23, 2019 · Graduation from a Preemie to a Healthy Little Boy... in Blood Donor Program

Grandma & Hayden

At 28 weeks gestation, Hannah went into spontaneous labor and found she had already dilated to 5 cm. Hayden James came into this world on January 6, 2019, weighing two pounds four ounces and scoring normally on the after-birth assessment. Still, as a high-risk delivery, he needed a lot of extra loving care.

Hayden was intubated to assist with breathing and IVs were inserted to provide him with medications and nutrition. When his care team checked his hemoglobin, it registered at a very low level due to his premature condition. They gave him his first dose of lifesaving blood product (20 cc). Surprisingly, his levels were immediately raised. The transfusion perked him up immediately. A recheck a few days later found him with low hemoglobin again, requiring him to receive 30 cc this time around, and, again, he rebounded.

Having been a nurse for the past 33 years, Lynnelle, Hayden’s grandmother, had seen many instances where blood products were transfused to patients, making the difference between life and death, but never in her wildest dreams would she have thought that neonates would need blood too.

“I always thought blood was used to help chemo patients and those injured in a trauma situation. When I was told that Hayden had received only 30 cc (which was equivalent to a little med cup), I was truly amazed at how such a small amount turned his situation around,” Lynnelle shared. Since then, Hayden has been doing great and has grown significantly.

Hayden’s Aunt Lisa sewed a cap and gown for him from a t-shirt for when he finally “graduated” from the hospital. Hayden's Graduation

Lynnelle’s other son, Max, has always been a giving person and felt the need to help others. Ever since he was 16 years old, he made it a point to donate blood as often as possible. He has now donated just over a gallon and a half of blood and has also donated platelets. Now that his little nephew has received blood twice, he feels compelled to donate.

“It only takes approximately an hour and fifteen minutes of your time—no big deal. Just think of the number of preemies who could be saved by one blood donation,” Lynnelle shares.

Hayden’s family saw first-hand the importance that blood product plays in helping premature babies. In honor of World Prematurity Day, the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program will be hosting the Second Annual Pints for Preemies Blood Donation Challenge. To learn more about this lifesaving challenge, click here.

How to Donate
For more information about donating blood in Rochester, Minnesota, call (507) 284-4475 or email donateblood@mayo.edu. Or visit our webpage http://www.mayoclinic.org/donateblood.

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Aug 13, 2019 · A Local Business Successfully Drives Up Blood Donations to Meet Patient Needs in Blood Donor Program

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With all of the summer construction and remodeling going on in downtown Rochester, parking is becoming more challenging. In order to meet the patient blood inventory demands, the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program brings staff, equipment, gifts, cookies, and smiles directly to the donors. By working with local businesses to organize blood drives, the Blood Donor Program is able to provide more locations to donate blood and build community relationships.

One local business is leading the way as a successful blood drive host— that business is Rochester Motor Cars. Their staff work diligently to encourage employees, clients, and community members to support Mayo Clinic patients by donating at their facility. Rochester Motor Car employees share why they are motivated to donate blood.

James Albien shares, “The reason I donate is very simple. I enjoy knowing that by donating, I can and will impact someone’s life and potentially be part of saving their life. The number one resource that we have in this world is each other. We are reliant every day on others, and without the efforts of everyone around us, our world would not be what it is today. By taking the time out of your day to donate blood, you will have assisted someone in a life-altering way.”

When asked why he donates, Zach Winter tells us, “I donate to help other people in need. Rochester Motor Cars makes it easy and convenient to donate.”

Jen Murillo explains, “Donating blood is such a lifesaving gift. When we do the blood drives at the stores, it makes it so easy—and it is humbling and inspiring to watch coworkers give to save others. It is such a selfless thing. Don’t get me wrong, I hate needles, but the Mayo staff is amazing at putting you at ease and making the process painless.”

“When my mom was ill, she needed transfusions and benefited from people who donated blood and plasma selflessly. This is my way of ‘paying it forward’ by doing the same for others,” Kha Holstein.

How to Donate
For more information about donating blood or how to set up a blood drive in Olmsted County, call (507) 284-4475 or email donateblood@mayo.edu. Or visit our web page http://www.mayoclinic.org/donateblood.

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Jul 23, 2019 · Experiences as Both Donors and Recipients Make for a Heartfelt Blood Donation Challenge in Blood Donor Program

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Having been a faithful blood donor for many years, Marilyn experienced what it feels like to be a recipient of a blood transfusion when she was diagnosed with Still’s disease. “I will always remember feeling better immediately following my blood transfusion,” Marilyn recalls. After having a transfusion, Marilyn was not able to donate for quite some time, but that didn’t stop this Mayo Clinic employee from finding other ways to help our patients.

As a Wellness Champion, Marilyn decided to spearhead a blood donor challenge within her own department with a goal to collectively donate a certain number of units. Blood donor challenges at Mayo Clinic in Rochester are either friendly competitions between departments to see which team can contribute the most blood for our patients or a single department aiming to reach its team goal. “Lenaye’s Lifesavers”—her team name—successfully achieved their goal. Marilyn says, “This is our way to help our patients. We don’t do the surgeries, and we don’t have direct contact with them. It is fun to get new people to become blood donors and give back after all that Mayo has given to us.”

During last year’s competition, the meaning of blood donation became personal for her team. Marilyn’s colleague, Sara, at the time of her delivery required an emergency C-section in order to save her baby’s life. Where a typical C-section might only take an hour to perform, she was on the table for nearly three hours. Her little Gwen was born, and after initially struggling, she was stabilized. Sara, however, had extremely low hemoglobin, so she was offered the choice to have a transfusion, which she did. “Knowing what I know now, I would have asked about the transfusion sooner,” Sara said.Fam1 blog size

Also a blood donor prior to her delivery, Sara recalls, “Never in all my donations and while participating in this challenge did I ever think that I would be the recipient of blood. It was very emotional. While apprehensive about receiving blood, I was surprisingly very comfortable.”

Marilyn shares, “I remember, too, the thoughts I was having while I received the blood transfusion. What if it doesn’t adhere to me? But I really didn’t have a choice. Once I had received it, I felt so much better.”

Having come full circle in the experience of blood donation, Sara and Marilyn continue to use their passion to inspire their staff to participate in the challenges.

To read more stories like this, visit the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program’s Blog Page.

How to Donate
For more information about donating blood in Rochester, Minnesota, call (507) 284-4475 or email donateblood@mayo.edu. Or visit our web page http://www.mayoclinic.org/donateblood.

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Mar 5, 2019 · Back in the Race After Cancer Diagnosis in Blood Donor Program

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Blessed with a delightful and contagious personality, Lydia Pankratz does not seem like someone who has battled a serious disease since age 11. Currently a senior at Century High School, Lydia is enjoying her life in full remission since her acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) diagnosis in September 2012.

While on a family trip to Sweden, Lydia began to feel extremely exhausted and eventually found she could not walk, needing to be carried in her father’s arms from location to location. Her parents thought she was suffering from anemia and fed her iron supplements. Once home from the trip, her doctor found her hemoglobin was at 4.6 – an extremely low and dangerous level. She had a bone marrow biopsy, which revealed cancer cells approximately six weeks later. She then underwent intense chemotherapy treatments at Mayo Clinic through January 2015.

“While being treated, I experienced a lot of issues due to the chemotherapy, including steroid-onset diabetes, kidney stones, a suppressed immune system, and pancreatitis,” says Lydia. “I missed a lot of school and really missed hanging out with my friends.”

As a detailed-oriented young lady, Lydia always wanted to know the ‘how’s’ and ‘why’s’ of how everything works. Lydia mentioned how very impressed she was with the way her health care team addressed her in such an adult manner, although she was only 11 years old at the time.

“They all took their time with me and my parents, answering all of our questions,” she shares. “They were all so wonderful to me in the hospital for my 12th birthday. The doctors and nurses made it extra special by decorating my room and writing ‘Happy Birthday, Lydia!’ on my windows.”

Lydia enjoys swimming and has received wonderful support from her coach since the end of her treatment through the present day. This year she is captain of her swim team.

She responded to the chemo treatments very well, and shortly after beginning the treatment regimen, she was found to be in remission. On January 14, 2020, after five years of remission, she will be completely healed and cancer-free.

With Lydia having received many units of blood product during the course of her treatment, her family is extremely grateful for the generosity shown by so many people who donated their blood in order to save Lydia’s life. Lydia has been symptom-free of cancer for many years now and currently is an advocate for our program by encouraging her friends to donate blood whenever Mayo Clinic’s blood drive comes to their school. She is a shining example of how blood can work miracles.

Do you have experience with a blood cancer or disorder like anemia or acute lymphoblastic leukemia? Talk with real members on Mayo Clinic Connect.

How to Donate
For more information about donating blood in Rochester, Minnesota, call (507) 284-4475 or email donateblood@mayo.edu. Or visit our web page http://www.mayoclinic.org/donateblood.

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Feb 1, 2019 · Meet the Team: Kelcey in Blood Donor Program

Meet the team - Kelcey

Born in Wisconsin, Kelcey grew up around the St. Charles/Lanesboro, Minnesota, area. She has eight-and-a-half years of experience in health care working in a CNA/PCA role, where she was responsible for the care of geriatric patients as well as children with special needs. Kelcey recently graduated from the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences Phlebotomy Program and has been warmly welcomed as a valued team member on our Donor Services Team. She is currently in school to become an RN and tells us that her past volunteer experience with the ambulance service has instilled in her the desire to set the long-term goal of becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner.

She and her boyfriend, Dalton, are the parents of these two sweethearts: Raeya (3) and Axxel (17 months). They just purchased a home in rural Chatfield, Minnesota.

When asked what her hobbies were outside of work, she immediately responded with exactly what we might expect. She absolutely loves playing with her children, whether it be a game of ball, learning to dance, coloring a pretty picture, or building forts. She doesn’t get to watch television or movies very often outside of the Disney shows she and her kids hunker down for.

She also enjoys fulfilling her sense of adventure in her free time. She loves being active in the outdoors with the following activities: walking, hiking, running, boating, four wheeling, razor riding, mud bogging, and swimming. Best of all, she appreciates the fresh air and soaking up the sun—when it’s out, of course.

When asked what she enjoyed most about her current role as a Blood Donor Technician, she replied, “I enjoy the people I work with—colleagues and donors alike. It is by far my favorite part of the day when donors share their personal stories with me.”

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Dec 12, 2018 · When You Give Blood, You Give Someone Another Holiday - Atika's Story in Blood Donor Program

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Living in Manchester, United Kingdom, at the time, Atika and her husband, Sajjad, were about to become first-time parents. They had long anticipated the healthy birth of their first child, Laaibah. However, things would take an unexpected turn for the worse within a few minutes of delivery.

Atika’s pregnancy had seemed to be textbook, without any issues or cause for concern. Her feelings were those of a typical first-time mom: heightened anticipation of the birth of this new little one, sheer excitement to finally learn whether they were to be gifted with a son or a daughter, and the gnawing, fearful thoughts that would arise, such as “Will I know what to do with this little life who will be fully dependent upon me for everything? Will he or she be healthy? Will I make a good mommy?”

Little Laaibah entered this world as perfect as her parents had dreamed she would be. However, this blissful feeling was disrupted when the staff noticed that Atika was bleeding profusely without an obvious cause. Atika had just given birth to a life—and now she was fighting for her own.

Sajjad, currently an Assistant Professor in the College of Medicine at Mayo Clinic, shares, “Immediately they began to transfuse her—giving her blood through six or seven different routes to keep her alive. She was bleeding unexplainably. I was so frightened, for I knew the extreme danger she was in, since I was a Ph.D. in Oncology at the time.” After it was all said and done, Atika had lost approximately two-thirds of her body’s blood supply, and if not for the blood product on hand, she would not have survived.

Having made it through such a traumatic experience, this family knows the sheer joy of being able to experience life together—especially during the holidays. Laaibah and Sophia couldn’t be happier to have their mommy with them to celebrate not only the holidays, but also everything else in their lives.

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Sajjad shares, “We reflect on the whole year at the holidays—not only on what we’ve experienced together, but also what we have been a part of in the broader community. It’s times like these that we ask ourselves, ‘Are we raising our children as good citizens? Are we helping them to appreciate what they have and teaching them how they can be all that they can become?’”

Atika chimes in, “You always appreciate what you have… food on the table… many blessings.” Speaking of blessings, Atika excitedly shares, “When I saw there was an opening for a technician position in the Blood Donor Program here at Mayo Clinic, I was very interested and excited about the fact that I might actually be able to give back in this way.” Today, we are delighted to have Atika on our life-saving team here at the Blood Donor Center. She is passionate about her role because she truly understands the need for blood.

Donate blood, save lives, and give someone another holiday with their beloved family. The gift of life is the best gift of all.

To read more stories like this, visit the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program’s Blog Page.

How to Donate
For more information about donating blood in Rochester, Minnesota, call (507) 284-4475 or email donateblood@mayo.edu. Or visit our web page http://www.mayoclinic.org/donateblood.

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Nov 29, 2018 · Meet the Team: Marketing and Recruitment Team in Blood Donor Program

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The members of the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program’s Marketing and Recruitment Team—Jackie O’Reilly, Kim Schmidt, and Katy Maeder —would like to give you a glimpse of their specific roles and of the strengths that each one brings to their well-rounded team. They all fully recognize that there is no “I” in an effective team, which is why they work so well together and complement one another’s individual strengths.

Networking, critical thinking, strategic planning, and relationship building are a large part of the team members’ job descriptions as representatives of the Blood Donor Program. Their mission is to share about the need for blood product with anyone they come into contact with, whether it is inside Mayo Clinic, with colleagues, or within the community, so that Mayo Clinic will always have an adequate blood supply on hand for patients in need. Read on to get to know each team member a little better.


Jackie is the analytical one on the team, always looking ahead to improve any process and willing to try new ideas. With a background in event planning, Jackie keeps her teammates on their toes with her organizational and planning skills. Jackie enjoys the community engagement aspect of her role, which includes participating in local events, meaningful interactions with community members, and networking with local leaders. Most of all, Jackie is a storyteller. She delights in sharing heartwarming stories of blood donation recipients with various local audiences.


With 35 years of service to Mayo, it is nearly impossible for Kim to walk through the subways without acknowledging and greeting her many friends, acquaintances, and past colleagues who she has had the privilege to work with. Relationship building is one of her greatest strengths in this role. When she is posed with a question related to her role, she usually has someone come to mind who she can tap for the answer. She is also all about smiling—when you smile at someone, it’s contagious. She considers it a joy to be able to come to work each day to do all she can to reach others, inviting them to donate blood to help save patient lives.


Katy brings a creative edge to the Marketing and Recruitment Team. With previous marketing experience, she has helped to transform the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program brand. Katy enjoys working on social media content, brainstorming different community campaigns, and networking over a cup (or two) of coffee. While she has only been at Mayo Clinic for a little over a year, she fits in just right with the team. Can’t you tell from the picture?


You may find any one of them (or perhaps all three) scurrying through the subway to her next presentation to meet someone who is willing to share their blood donation story.

The next time you see Jackie, Kim, or Katy in the skyways or byways, please feel free to stop and visit. They are always looking to improve their program for the sake of saving patient lives. They also love to hear your remarkable stories.


Aug 29, 2018 · Meet the Team: Jacci in Blood Donor Program

Meet the team - Jacci

Of the 28 years of service to Mayo Clinic, Jacci has devoted the past 13 to our blood donors at the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center as one of our seasoned technicians. When asked what it is that she enjoys most about her position, Jacci shares, “I learn something new every day from speaking with our donors. It’s amazing where a 20-minute conversation can take you.” Jacci’s joy in her work shines through those interactions not only by taking her into her donors’ lives, but also because they are able to catch a glimpse of her personal life outside of work through their delightful conversations. Her caring spirit and beautiful personality are common threads that weave together the blood donor family at Mayo Clinic.

Artistic, selfless, and witty are just a few words to describe Jacci outside of work:

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Artistic: When asked if she had any hidden talents or hobbies that she enjoyed, Jacci shared, “This winter, my daughter encouraged me to start doing art again. I hadn’t done any artwork since college and wasn’t sure I would be able to pick it up again. I practiced drawing our grandchildren. After posting the drawings to Facebook, I was surprised to receive requests to draw other people’s children and grandchildren, and I’ve been busy drawing portraits ever since. I’ve had a lot of fun with it!”

Selfless: Some of Jacci’s most precious interests outside of work are her children and her grandbabies. She thoroughly enjoys spending as much time as she can watching her “little grands” grow up before her eyes. She recently spent a week in Southern California in her old stomping grounds. “I love being on the beaches,” Jackie shares.

Witty: When she has free time outside of these activities, Jacci may be found with her nose in a good book, bringing smiles to the readers of her blog, and sipping on high-end, high-caffeine lattes.

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