ST. JAMES, Minn. — The American Red Cross will host the 12th annual Thanksgiving Day Blood Drive at the National Guard Training Center on Thanksgiving Day, and all who come to donate will receive a complimentary pie courtesy of Superfair Foods.
The annual tradition of rolling up a sleeve before gathering with family for a turkey dinner is unique to St. James. It is the only Red Cross Thanksgiving Day blood drive in the state of Minnesota hosted by the local community. In the past 11 years, nearly 2,000 pints of lifesaving blood have been donated at this annual event.
The Andersons of St. James are one family thankful for blood donors who make it a tradition to give back in such a meaningful way. Blood donation made a lifesaving difference for their infant daughter, Emery.
Tricia Anderson and her husband, Danon, were thrilled to be expecting their second child. She was experiencing a relatively normal pregnancy, but when they went to the 20-week ultrasound appointment, their world turned upside down as they learned their unborn child had a two-vessel umbilical cord and only one kidney.
On Aug. 2, 2015, Emery was born, and again the Andersons were faced with the unimaginable. Their precious little girl was born with additional complications known as LUMBAR syndrome, a rare condition that presents as a hemangioma, a vascular birthmark, on the lower body, in addition to other serious congenital anomalies.
Two hours after delivery Emery was sent by ambulance to Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She was in the neonatal intensive care unit for five days while tests were done to evaluate her condition and a team of experts was formed. At that point, doctors made the decision to delay additional surgeries until she was a little bit older.
Following a surgery in March 2016, Emery’s hemoglobin dropped dramatically, and she required a blood transfusion.
“It was amazing, there was instant improvement!” Anderson said of the transfusion. “It was just like pouring life into her. It was a complete turnaround. This experience opened my eyes to the power of a blood transfusion – it really is the gift of life.”
To date, Emery has undergone multiple surgeries, procedures and tests, and there’s a lot more ahead for this 1-year-old rock star who has already gone through so much. She regularly visits her team of doctors and specialists, which includes a dermatologist, an urologist, neurologists, nephrologist, a physical therapist and occupational therapists for monitoring of her progress, maintenance of the syndrome and medication checks. Emery will need surgery again at about age 5 before she starts school.
“You just never know when you or a loved one may be the one in need of lifesaving blood,” said Anderson. “We are thankful that it was available for Emery when she needed it most and encourage everyone who is able to donate this Thanksgiving.”
Nothing has been typical about Emery’s first year of life. She’s spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital, but she’s right on track. Despite what she’s been through she has a big smile on her face most of the time. She enjoys going to daycare, music, rocking on all fours because she’s getting ready to crawl and playing with her big brother, Dacen.
“Right now we are just taking one day at a time and enjoying every minute,” her mother added
Emery’s grandmother Debbie Anderson helps lead the Thanksgiving Day Blood Drive. The St. James community is invited to donate blood Nov. 24 from 7:30-11:30 a.m. at the National Guard Training Center to help ensure a sufficient blood supply throughout the holiday season for patients like Emery. To make an appointment to donate, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
A seasonal decline in donations often occurs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day when donors get busy with family gatherings and travel. However, patients don’t get a holiday vacation from needing lifesaving transfusions. In fact, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.
How to donate blood
All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.