Residents make blood donation a habit

Deborah Prescott | Daily Press Kirsten Tardiff donates blood Tuesday at the Wellspring Community Church in the Delta Plaza Mall. The American Red Cross blood drive is today from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Donors can walk-in, or choose a specific time by making an appointment online. The Community Action RSVP members are assisting by offering refreshments to donors.

ESCANABA — The need for blood and blood donors never goes away. As part of an effort to fill that need, the American Red Cross is holding a blood drive at the Wellspring Community Church in the Delta Plaza Mall today from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Donors may make an appointment online, or walk-in. The Community Action Agency Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) members, sponsoring the blood drive, ask donors bring a photo identification.

Alice and Jim Hansen are RSVP members and feel assisting the American Red Cross is a worthwhile project they do every two months.

“We have two shifts of four RSVP members volunteering by registering donors and offering refreshments when their blood donation is completed,” said Alice Hansen Tuesday. “We have about 80 to 90 appointments set up… I think donors are finding it more efficient to make appointments.”

The American Red Cross comes to Escanaba every two months and is accepting two types of donations today, ‘Power Red’ and ‘Whole Blood’.

The most commonly known donation is whole blood donation. A whole blood donation is frequently given to trauma patients and people who are having surgery.

A power red donation collects red cells from the donor and returns most of the plasma and platelets back to the donor. The red cells from a power red donation typically go to trauma patients, newborns and emergency transfusions during birth, people with sickle cell anemia and people suffering blood loss. This process takes a little more time, but it increases the donor’s impact on helping patients.

Carol Flemal is a retired registered nurse and gives blood every two months.

“The need is great at this time of year,” said Flemal. “It’s such a little thing to do that helps so much.”

She urges residents to give blood, and has seen the blood she has donated help patients as far away as John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md.

Pam Demmon has donated blood for many years and signs up for an appointment once she receives an email notifying her of an upcoming blood drive.

“It’s one way I can help,” said Demmon.

When asked if she ever had a bad experience donating blood, Demmon was quick to say yes.

“I fainted one time giving blood,” she said. “I didn’t eat before I went, that taught me a lesson.”

Kirsten Tardiff, of Escanaba, has given blood twice and agrees with Demmon.

“I almost fainted when I didn’t eat and drink before giving blood last time,” said Tardiff.

RSVP member Alice Hansen said snacks and refreshments donated by Elmer’s County Market, Meijer and Walmart are available to donors before they leave, but donors need to come hydrated.

“It helps to be hydrated, for an easier draw,” said Hansen. “Plan to be here approximately 45 minutes to an hour.”

Before arriving, start the donation process by completing RapidPass on This will save about 15 minutes at the location. If you are unble to complete RapidPass before donating, the same information will be at the desk when registering. Bring a list of medications, wear a shirt with sleeves that can be rolled up above the elbow, and eat a healthy meal. The American Red Cross will check the donor’s temperature and iron levels before blood is drawn.

Anyone 18 and older can give blood. Children under the age of 18 need a parent’s permission.

“A person is able to give blood every 56 days,” said Hansen.

“I have the time now, being I’m self-employed,” Tardiff said. “I will come as long as I’m healthy and have the time.”