Saving Lives, One Unit at a Time

In August, there are two opportunities to donate blood in the Lowell community.  Michigan Blood donations are important to saving the lives of many. And without a proper supply banked, it becomes difficult to support a hospital’s need.  

Most have heard about blood drives.  Many even have good intentions of donating, but only 3-4 people out of every 100 of Americans actually donate blood according to a Michigan Blood fact sheet.  Approximately a pint of blood, or one unit, is typically taken during each donation. The body is able to replenish the volume of blood taken, typically within 48 hours of the donation.  The actual blood draw takes less than 10 minutes, but the entire process, including check in, screening, and making sure the donor eats and feels well, will last 45 minutes to an hour.

Photo courtesy of Alto Community Blood Drive.

Giving and Receiving
Emma Darling, a local resident, has donated blood for the last 40 years.  She and her husband donate regularly as a means to help people, but after Darling became a health care professional she “saw it’s life-saving potential in action”.  It is her hope that through things like social media, billboards, and campus blood drives more people will become donors and continue to do so multiple times a year.  

Jennifer Dougherty and Elaine Buehner, residents in the Lowell community both have experience being on the receiving end of donated blood.  Both went through the experience of a child needing blood as they were dealing with heart complications.

Jennifer Dougherty’s son was born with a serious heart defect.  He has had five heart surgeries, the first of which was performed when he was two days old.  “Over the course of his surgeries, he has needed over forty units of different blood products. Without available blood products, there would not have been an option to perform the surgeries. Without the surgeries, there was very little chance that he would have survived very long.” says Dougherty of what donated blood has meant to her family.  Caleb will be entering second grade when the school year starts. Thanks, largely to those who donated blood which was available to him, he is able to run, jump, bike, and do things other kids his age often take for granted.

Dougherty comes from a family who has donated over 25 gallons of blood over the years but she had never been a donor until after the birth of her son.  Dougherty and her husband Phil, recently retired Alto Fire Chief, decided they would start donating blood as a means to help others and repay the gift they received, knowing the importance of having a supply of donated blood.  After donating in Grand Rapids and Lowell for about a year, Dougherty decided to start promoting regular blood drives in Alto. With a steady, frequent schedule, donors are encouraged to become regulars.  

Elaine Buehner also has a son who had heart surgery.  At the age of two a procedure was performed to repair a hole between the chambers of his heart as well as a valve.  Jeffrey received blood during the surgery. He also received a blood transfusion two days after the operation. “Donors are heroes. They are saving strangers’ lives.” says Buehner.  “They’re helping people heal, they’re stepping in when a parent or family member cannot. A simple, selfless act has an impact on the lives of so many.” She is a Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer survivor and is unable to donate blood herself, but she is forever thankful to those who do.  Jeffrey is now six and is “happy and most importantly healthy” according to his mom.

Photo courtesy of Alto Community Blood Drive.

Donating in Alto
The Alto Community Blood Drive hosts six blood drives a year.  This allows for people to donate blood every eight weeks. Entering its seventh year in October, over the course of 35 drives, 1104 pints of blood have been collected for Michigan Blood.  

Each drive provides homemade soup (including potato ham, white chicken chili and cheese broccoli), fresh baked rolls and homemade cookies for those who donate blood.  Their next drive, on Monday, August 13 is a Donor Appreciation Drive. Prizes and Alto Community Blood Drive t-shirts will be on-hand. Donuts from Heidi’s Farmstand will also be available.  

Any of the Alto Community Blood Drives are the perfect atmosphere for first time donors which is relaxed and comfortable.  These drives are also regularly attended by loyal donors, many of which have given over 5 gallons of blood and a few have donated over 10 gallons.  The blood drive is held at the Alto United Methodist Church, 11365 64th Street, Alto from 1:30pm to 6:15pm. If you’re unable to attend the event in August, they hold drives each October, December, February, April, and June.  

Donating at Pink Arrow Community Day
Michigan Blood will also be taking donations in their mobile unit on Thursday, August. 16 from 10am to 7pm.  For every pint of blood donated (minimum 100 pints needed), Michigan Blood will donate $10 to Gilda’s Club in Lowell.  This is the perfect opportunity to help others and contribute to a local non-profit organization.

Donating blood does not cost any money and yet its value, when needed, in saving the lives of others cannot be measured.  Blood is a resource which replenishes itself. There is no artificial substance available to be used in place of blood. Those who need blood have to get it from someone who has donated.

Also during Community Day, mammogram screenings will be given to qualified individuals.  Betty Ford Breast Care Services will be available in their mobile bus to give tours, answer questions, and perform mammograms.  Appointments will be taken between 10am and 2pm. Tours will be given between 2pm and 6pm. Call 877-495-2626 to make an appointment for a mammogram.     

Making Your Contribution
Oftentimes people come up with reasons to not donate blood.  It’s inconvenient, a fear of needles, it takes too much time, a blood drive is too far away, someone else will do it and more, but most of the time these reasons don’t hold much weight.  Donating blood is an important task. The Lowell community is able to do so on a regular basis without traveling very far. Thinking about how lives are changed because of blood donors should have people coming up with ways to donate more often.  

Those interested in donating blood in Alto or during Community Day are encouraged to sign up.  Click here to sign up for Monday, August 13 in Alto.  Click here to sign up to donate during Community Day on Thursday, August 16.  Or call Michigan Blood at 866-642-5663 with questions or to make an appointment.  Click here to view a Michigan Blood 56 Facts informational page.  This important donation will make a difference in the life of the individual or people who receive your blood as well as the friends and family of the recipient.  

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