Give the gift of life January 8

By Diana Hammell
The Caledonia Argus

Caledonia’s next Red Cross blood drive is Tuesday, Jan. 8 from 1 to 7 p.m. at the Four Season’s Community Center. For awhile now Caledonia’s chapter of the Red Cross has not been meeting its goal during blood drives. They’re hoping that in 2013 the generous residents of the area will roll up their sleeves and give the gift of life, one donation at a time.

Every day around 44,000 pints of blood are needed in hospitals to help treat trauma victims, surgery patients, organ transplant recipients, premature babies, cancer patients and more.

In some Caledonia families the enthusiasm to donate blood has been passed on to the younger generation. Caledonia High School students Zach Kasten and Emma Lange were both first time donors last year. According to Red Cross donor lists, members in Kasten’s family have donated over 140 units of blood, while Lange’s family members have donated over 130.

Zach Kasten said that giving blood was a good experience. “They treat you very nicely,” he said. “I wasn’t sure at first but found that there was nothing to it. They did a good job making you feel comfortable. They give you food and something to drink and that’s nice too. I plan to keep doing it if I can. Young people should be encouraged to give blood because you don’t see very many young people there.”

Lange said that giving blood was pretty easy. “You just go in there and they make sure you’re okay to give blood and you’re healthy enough. They sit you down at a table, take your blood and make sure you’re okay, that you don’t pass out or anything. Then you sit down at the cantina. It was not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. It felt good just because if you’re healthy enough to give blood it’s going to someone who needs it more than you do. It felt satisfying to give blood.” Lange said she was going to do it again.

Curt Goetzinger of Caledonia has been giving blood for the last 37 years and has given about 80 units of blood. “I try to go to every blood drive,” Goetzinger said. “Two of our kids give if they have a chance to as well. I started to give when Sue and I were dating; her dad (Vince Bauer) always gave. I just think it’s a good thing to do. It’s an easy way to help someone out. When our boys were in Madison [in the hospital] they needed that blood. It’s an easy way to give back.”


Things the Red Cross would like you to know before donating:

Blood donation is a safe and simple procedure and gives you the great feeling of having saved up to three lives.

The whole process takes around an hour and 15 minutes, but the actual donation only takes about eight to 10 minutes.

Drink plenty of water so you’re hydrated before donating.

Have a healthy meal before you donate – and try to avoid fatty foods.

Wear clothing with sleeves that can be raised above the elbow.

Bring a valid form of identification with you (driver’s license or another form of ID that verifies your age) – they need this or your donor card each time you donate.

Sixteen-year-olds are eligible to donate with a signed parental consent form. Persons 17 years of age do not need a consent form. There is no upper age limit.

If you are taking any medication, bring a list of those with you.

After one donates a few minutes are spent visiting with other donators and enjoying refreshments to allow the body to adjust to the slight decrease in fluid volume. After 10 to 15 minutes donators can then leave and continue with normal daily activities.


Blood cells don’t last forever

Red Cross workers who come to Caledonia have revealed to local donors that the Red Cross relies greatly on the wonderful source of good blood in rural areas such as Houston County.

The Red Cross says that red blood cells do not last forever. They have a shelf-life of up to 42 days.



Any high school that has a scheduled Red Cross blood drive during the school year is eligible to participate in a scholarship program. A scholarship is awarded to any student(s) from a high school participating in the Young Minds Change Lives program. The scholarship amount of between $250 to $2,500 is determined on the number of units collected at the school blood drive.


Blood Types

There are four major blood groups in the ABO blood group system and are determined by the presence or absence of two antigens – A and B – on the surface of red blood cells.

Group A – has only the A antigen on red cells (and B antibody in the plasma). Group A donations can be given to Type A and Type AB recipients.

Group B – has only the B antigen on red cells (and A antibody in the plasma). Group B donations can be given to Type B and Type AB recipients.

Group AB – has both A and B antigens on red cells (but neither A nor B antibody in the plasma). Type AB blood can only be given to other Type AB recipients.

Group O – has neither A nor B antigens on red cells (but both A and B antibodies are in the plasma). Type O negative is the universal red cell donor and can be given to any recipient.

Some patients require a closer blood match than that provided by the ABO positive/negative blood typing. For example, sometimes if the donor and recipient are from the same ethnic background the chance of a reaction can be reduced. That’s why an African-American blood donation may be the best hope for the needs of patients with sickle cell disease, 98 percent of whom are of African-American descent.


The process

The donation process begins with registration; a brief medical screening is completed; about one pint of blood and several small test tubes are collected; the bag, test tubes and the donor record are labeled with an identical bar code label to keep track of the donation; and the donation is stored in iced coolers until it is transported to a Red Cross center.

The donated blood is processed in a center where it is scanned into a computer database. Most blood is spun in centrifuges to separate transfusable components – red cells, platelets and plasma. Primary components like plasma can be further manufactured into components such as cryoprecipitate. Red cells are then leuko-reduced. Single donor platelets are leukoreduced and bacterially tested. The test tubes are sent to one of five Red Cross National testing laboratories for testing. A dozen tests are performed on each unit of donated blood to establish the blood type and test for infectious diseases. Results are sent electronically to the manufacturing facility within 24 hours. If a test result is positive the unit is discarded and the donor is notified. Test results are confidential and are only shared with the donor except as may be required by law. When test results are received units suitable for transfusion are labeled and stored. Red cells are stored in refrigerators at 6 degrees Celsius for up to 42 days. Platelets are stored at room temperature in agitators for up to five days. Plasma and cyro are frozen and stored in freezers for up to one year. Blood is available to be shipped to hospitals 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Donors can donate whole blood every 56 days. Red blood cells are the oxygen carrying cells. They can take two weeks or longer to fully return to normal. One can donate platelets (apheresis donation) as much as twice in one week – or up to 24 times per year. Platelet and plasma components are replaced in the body more quickly than red cells. Platelets will return to normal levels within a few hours of donating. Plasma, the watery substance of your blood, takes a couple of days. Platelets are tiny cell fragments that circulate throughout the blood and aid in blood clotting. Platelets are also known as thrombocytes.

Women have about 10 pints, and men about 12 pints of blood in their bodies.

Donating blood is 100 percent safe. You cannot get HIV or any other infectious disease from donating blood.

On the other side, it is also safe to receive blood. The blood supply is the safest it’s ever been, especially since the implementation of nucleic acid amplification testing (NAT) under an FDA-sponsored research protocol. NAT is a more sensitive gene-based test to screen the blood supply for HIV and hepatitis C. Tests (11 for infectious diseases) are performed on each unit of donated blood. General safety procedures are also in place: blood donor eligibility standards, individual screening, laboratory testing, confidential exclusion of donations and donor record checks. Health history questions must be answered on the form when registering. Answering screening questions is an FDA requirement that helps blood centers ensure the safest possible blood supply.


Donating opportunities in 

Houston County in January

Tuesday, Jan. 8, 1 to 7 p.m. – Four Seasons Community Center, 900 N. Kingston St., Caledonia. To schedule an appointment call Judy at 951-7453 or email [email protected]

Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2 to 7 p.m., St. Mary’s Church, 202 S. Sheridan St., Houston. To schedule an appointment call Dennis at 896-4809 or visit and enter your zip code.

Wednesday, Jan. 16, 12 to 6 p.m., The American Legion, 509 N. Chestnut, La Crescent. To schedule an appointment go online or call Shelly at 608-385-8566.

Thursday, Jan. 17, 1 to 7 p.m., Fest Building, 110 N. Division, Spring Grove. To schedule an appointment call Pat at 498-5671.