Champaign County donors gave thanks and gave to help others at the Nov. 24 community blood drive, held during a very different Thanksgiving week of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tuesday marked the beginning of a new monthly Community Blood Center blood drive schedule at the Champaign County Community Center that will also include COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP) donations to aid critically ill coronavirus patients.
The Tuesday blood drive totaled 18 donors, including five first-time donors. The Champaign County community will host the next monthly blood drive during Christmas week on Dec. 23.
The holiday season and the arrival of winter present traditional challenges to the regional blood supply. The challenge is far greater this year due to the pandemic. Many businesses and high school blood drives have cancelled or are at reduced capacity. The surge in coronavirus hospitalizations has created peak demand for convalescent plasma.
The season of giving inspired the Jacob family from Massillon. Kathryn Jacob said they gathered in Urbana for a modest Thanksgiving with her brother and his girlfriend Sarah Westerman.
“We’re seeing each other for Thanksgiving,” said Kathryn. “She was signed up for today and we thought we’d all do it. There were spots open, so we did. My mom, my dad, my brother — three of us are first-time donors.”
After donating, the family lingered together over a cookie and juice Thanksgiving snack. “It was a new experience,” said Kathryn’s dad Robert.
The blood drive offered a new experience for Shannan Harrington Rader from Urbana, who donated platelets for the first time.
“I’ve donated for years and decided to try a different donation,” she said. “I donate in honor of my dad, who donated blood and I decided to give platelets. I was always curious. ‘I wonder what they’re doing over there?’ and now I know.”
Platelets are the blood cells that help the blood clot. Shannon’s donation will be vital for treating cancer patients and trauma victims.
West Liberty donor Cindee Boyd has seen firsthand how blood products save lives in times of great need. Doctors called it a miracle when her husband Scott survived a farming accident in August of 2016. In a series of emergency surgeries, he received 108 units of blood, plasma and platelets.
Neighbors rallied to donate at the “Iron Man” blood drives held in his name. Cindee dedicated herself to helping Scott recover, and donating blood. She began donating platelets in 2019 and made her milestone 25th lifetime donation Tuesday.
“I started giving platelets because of cancer patients and trauma patients,” said Cindee. She serves as the village of West Liberty clerk and treasurer and in June lost a co-worker to cancer. “We worked together 17 years,” she said.
Scott has made steady progress in the four years since his accident. “He’s fantastic,” said Cindee. “He’s lifting weights again. He can drive again, but not too far.”
Scott struggles with short-term memory, a consequence of the traumatic blood loss he suffered while caught in the jaws of the bush hog he was operating. The loss of his spleen was one of many internal injuries. Without it, he is more vulnerable to infection.
“We have to watch for flu and colds and now COVID,” she said. “Cuts, scrapes, anything like that tend to get infected more.”
As for many families this year, the Boyd family Thanksgiving gathering was limited, celebrating only with seventh-grade son Noah and daughter Chelsea from Columbus. But as always, their gratitude was great.
“Our Thanksgiving will be small,” said Cindee on Tuesday. “But he’s out on his bike again. He’s doing really well since then.”
Blood donation requirements
Donors are required to provide a photo ID that includes their full name. Past CBC donors are also asked to bring their CBC donor ID card. Donors must be at least 17 years of age (16 years old with parental consent: form available at www.givingblood.org or at CBC branch & blood drive locations), weigh a minimum of 110 pounds (you may have to weigh more, depending on your height), and be in good physical health.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changes blood donor eligibility guidelines periodically. Individuals with eligibility questions are invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org. Make an appointment at www.DonorTime.com or call 937-461-3220.
Mark Pompilio is Public Relations/Marketing Manager for Community Blood Center.