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Donated blood saves wedding memories

Melissa Swenson

The Perham Rotary Club is always looking to contribute to the betterment of Perham and the surrounding area. So when the opportunity was presented to help out the Catholic Daughters with their long-standing blood drive, the club was quick to jump at the chance.

A while back, a representative from the American Red Cross was the speaker at our Rotary Club meeting. He told us his personal story of how donated blood had saved his life and saves the lives of thousands of others each year.

His message really hit home with me.

Seventeen years ago on my wedding day, my mother collapsed. She had not been feeling well for several weeks, but being the stubborn Norwegian she is, she didn't want to trouble me, or anyone else with this news. The wedding went off without a hitch; beautiful day, family, friends, food and lots of smiles, but as the dance was about to start, my mother collapsed.

An ambulance was called. They couldn't find a pulse. I was certain she was dead. It was horrible. Those moments are still hard for me to write about.

Thankfully the doctor on call was able to quickly diagnose her as having an aneurysm in her aorta, which was causing her to bleed internally. She was airlifted to the Sioux Falls Hospital, where upon landing, the aneurysm completely ruptured, giving her less than a minute to live.

After surgery, the surgeon called her his one-in-a-million patient. He said that most people don't survive what she went through. He proceeded to inform us as to how many pints of blood they used to keep her alive. I don't recall the amount, but according to my oldest sister, Kathy, it was 10 pints. All I know is, without that blood, I wouldn't have a mom.

My story, like thousands of others, strips down the need for giving blood to its base element - donating blood saves lives.

Here are a few interesting facts as provided by the American Red Cross:

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood;

Five million patients each year receive blood;

One donation can help save the lives of up to three people;

Blood cannot be manufactured, it can only come from donors;

The blood donation process is completely safe.

The Perham Rotary Club encourages everyone in the community to contribute to this worthwhile endeavor.

Jean Johnson, who heads up the committee for the drive, says, "There are many things we cannot do for others, even if we want to, but donating blood is something you can easily do for others and there is always a need."

She goes on to say that while the community shows support for the various fundraisers put on by Rotary, the blood drive is a way we can give back, as Perham Health is a hospital that uses blood from the American Red Cross.

The blood drive is being held at Calvary Lutheran Church on Thursday, June 14 from 12:30-6:30 p.m. and on Friday, June 15 from 7:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Appointments are not necessary, but are encouraged, as it does speed up the process.

To set up an appointment, or for additional information, contact Jean Johnson at 758-2714.