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Jul 19, 2017 · A Donor's Story: Jess in Blood Donor Program

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Being active is a very important part of Jess’s life. Golf, volleyball, and running are ways that she enjoys staying active and spending time with friends and family. “I’m grateful that I’m healthy and able to participate in activities that I love.”

Jess participates in fundraisers through sports-related tournaments and “fun runs,” but she also enjoys giving back through blood donation. “You can’t be sick when you show up to donate blood,” she says, “The staff at the Blood Donor Center need healthy volunteers, and I want to be able to donate whatever type of blood product they may need.”

Jess grew up in a family of blood donors and learned from a young age the importance of donating. Even though she has been deferred in the past because of low hemoblobin, Jess continues trying to donate at every opportunity.

“I wasn’t happy to find out during my last mini-physical that my iron level was low, but I was also upset that I couldn’t donate that day,” she says. “Not all things in life are easy. You need to keep trying because every donation you’re able to make can touch multiple lives.”

Jess and her work unit at Mayo Clinic in Rochester have made donating blood a “group effort” by competing in “blood donor challenges” against other work units. She has also donated with friends and family members. “I love competition—friendly or otherwise—so it’s fun to participate in these challenges while also saving lives in the process.”

May 30, 2017 · 30 Gallons and Still Going Strong in Blood Donor Program

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Every blood donor who visits our Blood Donor Center has a unique story, and many have a reason or inspiration that has sparked a desire to become a donor. Dale’s reason is simply an altruistic one—a way to help the community. Dale enjoys donating, and he promotes this life-saving act every chance he gets.

Dale first began his blood-donation journey in the early 1980s. IBM, his place of employment, advocates for blood donation and encourages its employees to give back to the community. A department blood drive started Dale on his journey, and he has been a faithful donor since that time.

In Dale’s early days of donation, he set a personal goal to donate whole blood six times per year. At that time, donors could donate whole blood every 56 days, rather than every 84 days as it stands today. (Based on new guidelines, there is a longer “waiting period” between donations for whole blood and red-cell donations because the body needs to replenish its iron.)

Donating Platelets vs. Whole Blood
After a time, Dale felt that he wanted to give more, so he set a new goal—one gallon each year, which meant he would have to donate more than the six times per year. Platelet donation was the answer for Dale, and it helped him meet his new goal, and more.

Dale now donates platelets every time, and he earns a three-gallon pin each year.

Family Affair
Dale recently encouraged one of his daughters, Chelsey, to give platelet donation a try. The appointment was strategically planned so that Dale gave his 240th donation and received his 30-gallon pin at the same time that Chelsey gave her 8th donation and earned her 1-gallon pin. A lot of blood products have been donated from this one family!

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Notice the blood drops on Dale’s motorcycle antennas on the back of his bike?

When Dale was asked how Chelsey feels about donating with her dad, he answered, “She was excited about facing the ‘6-inch, 12-gauge needle’ alongside her father.” (Dale, next time you come in to donate, we should discuss how big the needle REALLY is. We hear it’s MUCH smaller, and it doesn’t hurt one bit.)

Besides blood donation, Dale’s passions in life include spending time with his family, riding his Harley Davidson with his wife (the motorcycle even has blood drops on the antennas), and watching NDSU football.

Thank you, Dale, for being one of our dedicated blood donors and for sharing so much of your time with us. When you give, others live.

May 5, 2017 · Finding Rivalry Fun in Blood Donation in Blood Donor Program

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Obtaining blood for our patients can sometimes be a true challenge, but with the help of our blood donation challenges, blood flows a little easier. One of our challenges was hosted by the Mayo School of Health Sciences – Emergency Medicine Paramedics and Surgical First Assistants programs. These two groups are complete rivals. Thankfully, the challenge required no physical contact and only comical banter exchanged between the two team leaders: Dan Anger, Program Director of the Emergency Medicine Paramedic Program, and Sarah Penkava, Program Director of the Surgical First Assistant Program.

Since 2015, the ribbing between the two team leaders has always started shortly after January 1 and gone through the length of the challenge, which is anywhere from one to two months. Those of us who are fortunate enough to keep track of the two groups manage to get a lot of enjoyment throughout this challenge.

Emergency Medicine Paramedics took the title the first year (2015), and Sarah’s group managed to win the title in 2016. This year was the “rubber match,” determining who would have the majority of the wins thus far, so the competition was a little more “banterous” than usual.

So who won? Sarah’s group, Surgical First Assistants, took the title home. Of course, even after the challenge ended, the friendly banter persisted.

“I participate because Dan dared me to beat him at a blood dononation challenge,” says Sarah.  “I lost that first year and was filled with a burning desire for vengeance. The following year, I was vindicated, and the title was mine–all mine! Oh, and it helps our patients too.”

“I participated because I have used the blood in my previous position as a flight paramedic and know first-hand how it can impact patient survival,” says Dan. “Believe it or not, despite being a paramedic, I have a severe dislike for needles. I overcame that dislike and regularly donate blood. After sitting in the lobby of the Blood Donor Center reading some of the success stories on the wall, I was inspired to become a lifelong donor.”

Dan goes on to say, “After the paramedic program won the first year of this challenge, I saw the disappointment on Sarah’s face. I figured I better let her win a couple challenges, or she wouldn’t want to participate again.”

Dan and Sarah may give each other a hard time, but both know the needs of the patient come first and devote their time, once a year, to make sure our patients are cared for above and beyond their daily teachings and work. Over the past three years, there have been 85 students who have given us 142 donations, and of those donations, 44 were new donors.

The true winners are our patients. Thank you to Dan and Sarah for their continued dedication to blood donation.

Oct 28, 2016 · Need for Blood Hits Chambers Family Twice in Blood Donor Program

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Until 2014, Marie and Jason lived, what many would call, an ordinary life. The couple were parents of 7-year-old twins and heard the news that they were again expecting twins.

Three days after the second set of twins was born, one of the babies got very ill. Mom and dad did what any parent would do when their child is sick–took their infant to the hospital. While still in the hospital, two days later, Marie started to hemorrhage and was immediately taken to the ER where she received 6 units of blood. Thankfully, baby Chambers and Marie recovered and are grateful for the wonderful care they received at Mayo.

Marie relives the details of her family’s events in the letter below

Every day since my life-threatening, delayed postpartum hemorrhage on May 22, 2014, I awake with a grateful heart for the gift of another day here on Earth. I am thankful to the many selfless blood donors whose donations helped saved my life. There are many factors that contributed to my survival and I am very thankful that blood products were available when I was in need.

I was given a second chance at life and was relieved that I could give my husband his second chance at life when we heard that he was in need of a new kidney last year. In addition to transplanting the new kidney, doctors first had to remove his two large and diseased kidneys, which resulted in a large blood loss and required a three-unit blood transfusion during his surgery and recovery period.

Blood donation is a cause near and dear to my heart because of the need from both Jason and I. I feel so lucky for the opportunity to pay it forward when I donate blood.  In fact, I have celebrated the first two anniversaries of my hemorrhage by visiting my local blood donation center to instill a positive memory instead of the scary events of that day.

I’m so glad that I discovered the blood donation center at Mayo and that I had the opportunity to give back in a small way to a place that has given so much to us.

Thanks to blood donation, my four young children have their mother and a father with a new kidney and a new lease on life.

Thanks to Mayo my husband is living a healthy life again, completely pain free.

Best regards, Marie Chambers.

Sep 14, 2016 · Getting Over Your Fear of Needles in Blood Donor Program

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Many first-time donors come to their donation with a fear of needles but most find that the donation process is easy and relatively painless. Here are some tips to help you make it through your donation and overcome a fear of needles.

Know What to Expect

Make yourself familiar with the blood donation process – this will help you feel prepared for each step. And feel free to ask questions if you want to learn more.

Share Your Fear

Let the person drawing your blood know you are fearful. She/he can do their best to minimize your discomfort by distracting you with conversation.

Bring Moral Support

Many donors enjoy donating with a friend, both for the moral support and for celebrating the good they’ve done together.

Realize That the Pain Will Be Over in an Instant

You will feel just a slight pinch, and it’s over in seconds. Focus on the lives you may be helping to save by donating blood. By giving a single pint of blood, you may help save as many as three lives. The difference you can make may last a lifetime, unlike the discomfort.

Reward Yourself

Even small steps deserve rewards. If you go to a blood donor center appointment you normally would have skipped due to needle fear, make sure you reward yourself for going. When you get a blood draw make it truly worth it by rewarding yourself with something special. Over time, you may begin to associate the needle with a reward, not with pain or fear.

Sep 6, 2016 · Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program Completes 6th Annual Summer High School Challenge in Blood Donor Program

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As students head back to school, we are thrilled to share the results of our Annual Summer High School Blood Donor Challenge. Olmsted County high schools helped keep their school spirit alive!  The Olmsted County high schools were divided into 3 groups determined by the number of students and staff at the school.  Group 1 consisted of Century, John Marshall and Mayo.  Group 2 was Byron, Rochester Alternative Learning Center, Dover–Eyota, Lourdes and Stewartville and Group 3 was Rochester Off Campus and Schaeffer Academy.  We are happy to say, it was another fun challenge and the winners for the 3 groups are Century with 8% participation, Dover Eyota with 18% and Schaeffer Academy with 24% participation.  These teams will be able to proudly display the traveling trophy.

The other 7 schools were also active in participation and deserve a great pat on the back. John Marshall and Mayo both ended with 5% participation for Group 1. Group 2 had Byron with 13%, Stewartville with 12%, Lourdes with 11% and Rochester Alternative Learning Center with 3%.  In Group 3, Rochester off Campus came in 2nd with 12%. Way to go teams!

There were approximately 471 units collected during this summer long challenge. With all donations helping up to three patients, challenge participants made a difference in the lives of many of our patients – thank you! All who donated has helped keep spirits high among our patients and their families during the heat of summer, a time when donors are more scarce due to vacations and busy schedules.

On behalf of our patients, Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center staff wish to thank all who participated in this competition.

For more information about donating blood or next year’s Summer High School Pride Challenge, call 507-284-4475 or visit http://www.mayoclinic.org/donate-blood-rst.

Sep 1, 2016 · Where Does Your Blood Go After a Donation? in Blood Donor Program

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According to the American Red Cross, an estimated 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood at any given time, although less than 10 percent of that eligible population actually do each year. The average blood donation takes approximately 45 minutes.  Our donors know the blood donation process well — register, complete questionnaire, short physical exam, donate, refuel with refreshments. But, what happens to the blood once the donation is complete?

Test

At the end of each donation, samples are collected and tested to determine the blood type and ensure the blood is free of infectious diseases and safe for use.

Separate

The unit of blood is divided into at least two, sometimes three, components including red cells, platelets, and plasma. These components can help up to three patients.

Label

The blood products are then labeled according to blood type.

Store

The blood is then transferred to storage. Red blood cells can be kept refrigerated for 42 days. Platelets can be refrigerated for 5 days. Plasma can be frozen for up to one year.

Compatibility Test

When a physician orders a blood transfusion for a patient, the unit of blood is first tested to make sure it is compatible with the patient’s blood type.

Transport

If the blood product is compatible, it is then transported to the patient’s location.

Safety Check

The blood is checked to assure safe and accurate dispensing

Transfusion

The blood product is then transfused into the patient.

Aug 31, 2016 · HLA Antibody Testing: Maintaining the Safety of Our Blood in Blood Donor Program

I would put a smiley face on this blog but I have no clue where to find the little guy:)