ThedaCare Employees Know Importance of Blood Donations

If you want to speak to someone who knows about blood, just ask Naomi Krueger. She’s the Blood Bank Section Head at Riverside Medical Center, and sees firsthand the constant need for blood.

“We have our own small blood bank in the hospital, and keep blood on hand for immediate use,” Krueger said. “We receive regular shipments of blood from the Community Blood Center. If there are patients who need special types of blood, we request it and they send the blood to us.”

Krueger said that oncology or trauma patients may receive blood transfusions.“It’s great to have units of blood to give to trauma patients immediately, and if they are being moved to another facility, send them off with more blood,” she said. “The EMTs and transport staff are glad it’s there.”

Naomi is just one of many ThedaCare staff members who know the importance of blood. Like Naomi, some of these people see blood at the end of its journey, when it is given to patients.

Other ThedaCare staff are involved at the start of the process – when a blood donation is given. Dawn Bruns, laboratory secretary at Appleton Medical Center, coordinates regular blood drives at the hospital.

“You never know when a trauma patient will come in the door and there will be a big need for blood,” she said. “As a blood drive coordinator, it’s meaningful knowing that I have a part in providing blood for patients at our hospital.”

The Community Blood Center provides all of the blood used at Riverside Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, Appleton Medical Center, and New London Family Medical Center. Each of these hospitals holds blood drives throughout the year.

Over 1,000 people have donated at these blood drives in 2012. Angela Brumm, PR coordinator at the Community Blood Center, said that blood drives are vital to the blood supply.

“Each time a unit of blood is transfused to a patient, the process began with a person who spent time donating that blood. It’s true that a blood product is part of the supply chain, like other hospital supplies, but it starts out very differently- as a gift from one person to another,” Brumm said.

It takes about an hour to give blood. Donors must be at least 17 years old (16 with parental permission), weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in general good health.

Many ThedaCare staff have been blood donors for years, Brumm added, and new blood donors come to the drives every year. “The blood drive at Riverside Medical Center has grown so big that in 2013, we’ll be sending two bloodmobiles instead of one!” said Brumm.

Krueger believes that giving blood is a way for people to give back. “A lot of blood donors have known someone who had cancer, or was in a trauma situation, and needed blood. I think it’s a way for them to pay it back,” Krueger said. “If you’re thinking about giving blood, do it. Pay it forward!”

Bruns, who has been coordinating blood drives at Appleton Medical Center for 20 years, plans to retire in a few months. When she reflects on the thousands of lives she’s touched through blood donation, she said she never thought about the people she’s impacted in that way- that she was just doing her job. Bruns said she’ll miss coordinating the blood drives.  “If I could say anything to you, I would tell you to try donating! It makes you feel so good, that you’re helping others by giving blood.”