Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Making donating blood just a little more personal February 8, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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My blood donation card in my wallet. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


I GIVE BLOOD to the American Red Cross whenever I can. Like last evening, at the Eagles Club in Faribault. I’m not paid. I just do it because it’s the right thing to do. Because blood transfusions saved my mom’s life years ago. Because I am healthy and able and I can help. My rare blood type, AB+, is always in high demand.

Admittedly I was a late-comer to this, having watched my husband donate blood for years before deciding I could do this, too. Now we go together, race each other in how long it will take to fill our blood collection bags. I usually win. We have a little fun.

Beyond the physical act of donating, I’ve never thought about what happens to my blood once it leaves Faribault. Now I know thanks to the Red Cross. The past two times I’ve given, I’ve received follow-up emails telling me specifically where my blood went. My mid-December donation went to Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, Minnesota. Months earlier, my blood helped a patient at Douglas County Hospital in Alexandria, Minnesota.

It’s a brilliant idea, this sharing of location information. Although I will never know the name of the person whose life I may have helped save, I now feel a personal component to giving blood. And anytime that happens, we grow closer as humans in a world that, although deeply technologically connected, often feels more distant and uncaring than ever.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


26 Responses to “Making donating blood just a little more personal”

  1. It’s great that you donate blood. My dad does it regularly too. The follow-up emails definitely make it more impactful to know that your blood is being put to good use!

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    That is a great way to encourage donors –pretty genius I would say. I applaud you and Randy for giving so freely in a wonderful way.

  3. OH lovely. I give blood too but do not get these follow up emails. Is there a box I should tick? I also did not know that people can get paid to donate blood. c

    • At some point, I gave the Red Cross my email address, I believe during on-site sign-up to schedule a future donation.

      Technically, I believe it’s blood plasma that can be sold. I’ve had family members who have sold their plasma to blood banks in larger communities. Not to the Red Cross.

  4. Valerie Says:

    I didn’t know you could get follow-emails telling where the blood was donated. Good idea. Thanks for giving blood.

  5. Miranda Says:

    Glad to hear you didn’t break any bones on your way to donate blood this time. 😛
    For anyone wondering, you can get compensated for donating plasma through Biolife and other plasma centers. Some people look at donating plasma as negative, since you get paid for it, but it is also used to treat medical problems. Working in the medical field, it was cool for me to see patients getting plasmapheresis treatments for Guillain-Barré syndrome.

    • Thanks for that additional info on donating plasma, Miranda.

      To you readers who are unaware, I broke my right shoulder on May 22, 2017, while on my way to donate blood. I missed the bottom step on a stairway at the donation site, my local hospital, and plunged onto the concrete floor. Now whenever I’m about to donate blood, family members (like my daughter Miranda here) advise me to be careful. Miranda, the Eagles Club where I donated last evening doesn’t have stairs. Only a snowy/icy parking lot.

  6. Sandy Bessingpas Says:

    Thank you from Alexandria Minnesota..I donate blood also, but never have been notified about where it has been used.

    • You are welcome, Sandy. And thank you for donating. You should ask next time you donate. Does the Red Cross have your email address? This letting donors know where their blood goes is a fairly recent thing. I asked last evening. I’ve only been notified the last two times I gave blood.

  7. Jackie Says:

    A good cause indeed. Good for you guys, to donate that precious blood of yours. I haven’t been able to give for years, no matter how hard I try my Hemoglobin is always just under the low limit for me to donate. I did it for years in college, I would get $25 and that helped put gas in my car. Now days I don’t believe they pay anymore, at least not at Mayo.

  8. Sheryl Says:

    I never heard of people getting follow-up emails, but it sounds like a wonderful idea.

    • I get emails often asking me to donate and, now, these follow-up “here’s where your blood went” emails. I assumed all who’ve given the Red Cross their addresses would get these. But maybe not. I know it’s a relatively new thing, this location info shared.

  9. I can’t give blood due to living in Europe in the 1980’s- mad cow disease. Kinda sad.

  10. I donated blood for years and years until being diagnosed with RA and placed on meds which prohibit donation–something I miss since several family members have benefited from the donations of giving individuals like you. It’s so amazing they can now tell you where it went, which makes giving even more rewarding!

  11. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I had no idea that they did that. Donating blood is something that I should look into

  12. Neil Says:

    You never know where that blood may end up! When I was in Iraq and Afghanistan, we received lots of units that had been donated through the Red Cross. It’s not unusual for a patient to require multiple units of blood, so keep donating as often as you can (every 8 weeks for a standard unit of blood).

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