Humphrey has three donors with more than 150 units donated

December 30, 2018

HUMPHREY — They want to help.

It seems simplistic, maybe a little too simplistic, but for Len Hassenstab, Bob Zach and Jim Wiehn giving blood is helping the best way they know how.

The trio from Humphrey each have donated more than 150 units of blood.

Hassenstab has given 178, Zach 164, and Wiehn has donated 162 units.

Humphrey blood drive coordinator Denise Brockhaus said their willingness to give so much for so long is inspiring.

“Very proud. They are very dedicated, and they make it a priority, so that’s what I really appreciate,” she said.

Wiehn, 64, and his wife, Jane, have four children and four grandchildren.

“I would like to see more of the younger men and women start to donate and keep giving blood. Hopefully, they, like all of us, can recognize the need for donating. If we can focus on that age group and educate them on why the demand is so great, maybe they will keep the commitment every time, like all of us should,” he said. “Donating blood is an opportunity for all of us to help someone in need, whether they are having a medical surgery or suffering from a traumatic or life-threatening injuries.”

He began donating blood around 1974.

“Someone asked me if I had given before, and that’s what got me started. Maybe that’s what people need to encourage them,” he said.

Wiehn said serving on the local rescue unit has shaped his feelings about giving.

Hassenstab, 91, a retired banker, and his wife, Adele, have eight children, 30 grandchildren and 40 great-grandchildren.

“One thing that’s influenced me lately is that a year ago I received a letter from the Red Cross. I have O negative blood, and that can be given to anyone without testing. Except for some new-born babies, if they’re given O negative it can kill them. But my blood is special, I don’t know why, so that really motivates me to keep giving,” he said.

He came back to Humphrey in 1950 after graduating from Creighton University in Omaha and started giving blood and has given ever since.

“I just decided that it’s a good thing to do. There was an instructor at St. Francis who was very active in giving,” he said. “At that time, it (the blood) wasn’t stored. When a person needed blood they got someone to donate, and he (the teacher) told me that the nuns really wanted me to give because my blood was O negative, so I went to the bloodmobile. It just feels like a great thing to do.”

Hassenstab said he is amazed at how much giving helps people no matter where they live.

“Through the years I’ve received letters from the Red Cross telling me where they sent my blood, and if they don’t need it locally they shipped it to the East Coast, Puerto Rico, California and Texas. It goes all over the country. It gives you a good feeling,” he said.

Zach, 87, and his late wife, Donna, had six children together and 21 great-grandchildren.

He farmed and has been retired for about 15 years.

“If you get them started young, they’ll keep going because they’ll find out it’s no big deal to give blood. You go in, and an hour later you’re out, and you feel good and maybe save somebody’s life,” he said.

In 1955, after getting out of the U.S. Army, Zach came back to Humphrey and was talked into giving blood.

“I knew a couple guys were giving blood, and they talked me into giving blood, and I kept giving after that,” he said. “They always said you’d save somebody’s life if you gave a pint of blood, and that’s what got me started.”

For Zach, the volunteers and Red Cross staff make giving easy.

“I think giving blood is the easy part. The workers do all the work, they line everything up. You go in for an hour, give blood, and get something to eat when you’re done. They do everything else.”

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