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.
Send an email to invite people you know to join the Blood Donor Program page.