DE FOREST, Wis. (May 4, 2021) — The community is invited to give blood in memory of Betty “Bingo” McMillin at a special American Red Cross blood drive Saturday, May 22 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at De Forest Public Library, 203 Library Street.
Betty was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a cancer in which immature blood cells located in the bone marrow fail to mature into healthy blood cells. In addition, Betty developed hemolytic anemia, a blood disorder in which red blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be made.
Individually these conditions require a patient to receive a significant amount of blood products. Having these two conditions simultaneously required Betty to receive weekly blood transfusions. Thanks to generous blood donors, blood was available to help Betty maintain her life and allowed her to spend an extra year with her family. Betty passed away March 2020.
“Due to a blood shortage, there were many times when my mom would wait hours for her blood to be delivered,” said, Jamie McMillin, Betty’s daughter. Because her mother’s hemoglobin levels were low, Betty lacked energy and felt horrible. “I knew she was struggling, and she never complained. She was just happy to get the blood because she knew the next day, she would be able to walk again, be with her friends and be at home with her dog, Teddy.”
“I want to honor my mother by having this blood drive,” said McMillin. “I would like to see the entire community come together to support others in need by giving blood. I think we need to make high school students aware that they are able to help, especially young donors that may have not donated before, with great hopes that they continue to donate blood throughout their lives.”
This blood drive is being sponsored by the Sun Prairie Storm swim team and it is anticipated to collect 44 lifesaving donations to help patients in need.
Donated blood may be used to help accident victims, surgery patients, organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease. There is no substitute for donated blood products.
Every day, the Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 blood donations to meet the needs of hospital patients across the country. Blood donors of all types are needed. Those with types O, A negative and B negative blood are encouraged to make a Power Red donation at this blood drive. Power Red donors give a concentrated dose of red blood cells during a single donation, allowing them to maximize their impact.
Though the need for blood and platelets doesn’t let up, donations often decline at this time of year as donors become busy with outdoor activities, schools dismiss for summer and vacations are planned. In thanks for helping meet patient needs, all who come to donate in May will automatically be entered for a chance to win a travel trailer camper that sleeps five, powered by Suburban Propane.* Additional details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/SummerFullOfLife.
Health insights for donors
The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether they developed symptoms. Testing may also identify the presence of antibodies developed after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
Plasma from routine blood and platelet donations that test positive for high levels of antibodies may be used as convalescent plasma to meet potential future needs of COVID-19 patients. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood product collected from COVID-19 survivors who have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus.
The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.
At a time when health information has never been more important, the Red Cross is also screening all blood, platelet and plasma donations from self-identified African American donors for the sickle cell trait. This additional screening will provide Black donors with an additional health insight and help the Red Cross identify compatible blood types more quickly to help patients with sickle cell disease. Blood transfusion is an essential treatment for those with sickle cell disease, and blood donations from individuals of the same race, ethnicity and blood type have a unique ability to help patients fighting sickle cell disease.
Donors can expect to receive antibody test and sickle cell trait screening results, if applicable, within one to two weeks through the Red Cross Blood Donor App and the online donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.
Blood drive safety
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks, social distancing and face masks for donors and staff – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.