Mankato blood drive to honor health workers

Brian Arola, The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.
·2 min read

Apr. 11—MANKATO — An upcoming blood donation drive will honor health workers for their hard work caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The American Red Cross organized the drive from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, April 16, at Store It in Mankato, 2015 Bassett Drive.

The nonprofit often holds blood drives in the Mankato area, but this one was specifically organized so donors can show appreciation for people who work in health care.

"This was a way to allow the community to say thank you to them," said Sue Thesenga, regional communications manager for the American Red Cross. "Not just for their work during the pandemic, although it was above and beyond in many cases, but for the work they do every day to keep our communities healthy."

The goal will be to collect 100 units of blood, a fairly sizable amount by blood drive standards. It'll be Store It's first time hosting a blood drive, which came about when the company reached out to the American Red Cross.

Blood drive cancellations have been more common during the COVID-19 pandemic. They're often booked a year in advance, but some usual hosts haven't done them as much over the course of the pandemic because they couldn't welcome visitors inside.

Supplies are in better shape now, although the situation can quickly change if emergencies arise. The Red Cross needs to collect about 12,500 blood and 2,700 platelet donations per day to supply 2,500 hospitals or transfusion centers across the country, with 105 of the hospitals being in Minnesota or the Dakotas.

Health care workers understand the need for blood donations just about better than anyone, said Tracy Culbertson, regional nurse manager for oncology and infusion centers at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato.

"We see it all day long and we know that it can change the patient's outcome almost immediately," she said in a news release. "When the blood supply is at risk it's very scary — this is something you can't take for granted."

She called the donation drive a thoughtful and creative idea.

People who recently received their COVID-19 vaccination can donate blood. Like people who haven't received a vaccine, they'd be asked to stay away if they have any symptoms.

Interested donors can sign up for slots through the Red Cross donor app, RedCrossBlood.org, or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

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