Huron Plainman | Invest an hour to save a life?


HURON — If you could help save a life by giving a little bit of yourself and investing an hour in the process, would you?

The American Red Cross will hold a blood donation stop next Thursday from noon to 6 p.m. in Fellowship Hall at Our Savior Lutheran Church at 21st and Ohio in Huron.

This opportunity, like many are, will see many familiar faces, as the donation stations are often spaced far enough apart that if you donated last, you’ll likely be able to occupy a chair at this one as well. Two people, Brenda Welch and Chuck Mahowald, who have both been involved in the Red Cross blood drive for many years, will also be back this time around.

“People like Brenda and Chuck are great examples of those who continue to make blood drives like this week’s a positive event,” said Charlotte Henley, Huron Event Coordinator.

“I guess I got involved by organizing a blood drive in 2003,” Welch said. “I was working at Northwestern at the time and it was presented as an opportunity for our club Sertoma. Deannie LeRoux and I organized this campaign, which took place at Northwestern. Welch started donating blood in 2007 and thinks that it exceeded the two-gallon level.

Although Welch was instrumental in getting things started, she was frustrated that she couldn’t donate blood herself.

“At that time, the medication I was taking for my MS (multiple sclerosis) prevented me from donating. My medication has since changed and I can donate, although I am still unable to double donate red blood cells.

During a double red blood cell donation, a machine is used to collect whole blood. The red blood cells are separated and stored, and the rest of the blood is returned to the donor. This donation safely removes twice as many red blood cells as traditional whole blood.

“I made my first blood donation probably 50 years ago when I was in college,” Mahowald said. “I saw a poster and knew the process, so I decided to volunteer.” Mahowald said that many years ago one of his sisters needed a blood transfusion and he recalled that his father gave blood to reimburse the blood bank. “I remember it and now I gave blood to pay it forward.”

In a similar vein, Welch was motivated to get more involved when after visiting her brother in the hospital, she came across a car accident where there were numerous injuries. “It was just before our blood drive and it really made me realize that I saw someone who was in great need. Also, my dad had been donating blood for many years and that made me also guided.

She recently worked with Henley on organizing blood drives, but over time, more and more voluntary activities – signing of participants, taking the questionnaire, etc. scholarships through the Red Cross.

After college, Mahowald noted that there was a call throughout the city of Huron for blood donations when a member of the police department was stabbed and needed blood. “I donated back then, and about five years ago I picked up the habit. I guess I’ve been pretty consistent in my donations over the last few years.

“Blood can go anywhere and help anyone,” Welch said. “It’s always necessary.”

To schedule an appointment for Thursday’s Red Cross blood drive, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit RedCrossBlood.org and enter HuronSD to schedule a time. As long as they last Thursday, donors will receive a 20-ounce aluminum water bottle as a “thank you” along with a set of stickers to personalize the bottle.

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