AP NEWS

Former Flathead commissioner depends on blood donations

December 28, 2018

Nine years ago Dale Lauman of Lakeside was diagnosed with lymphoma. The retired postal worker and former Flathead County commissioner has since undergone chemotherapy, affecting his bone marrow and making it difficult for his body to produce red blood cells.

As a result, every two to three weeks for the last several years Lauman has needed transfusions. Each transfusion includes two units of blood, and the American Red Cross and its donors have helped guarantee that Lauman and others like him have the supply they need when they need it.

“I tip my hat to the people who constantly donate blood,” Lauman said. “Those of us on the other end who need it truly appreciate that it’s always available.”

The 79-year-old said years ago he was a blood donor himself, never realizing he would be on other end of that equation one day.

“I never dreamed I would be on this side of that spectrum and receiving blood consistently, so it makes you appreciate the people who are donating blood and everyone who processes that blood and gets it ready,” he said. “I know there’s a lot that goes into that blood before it gets to the recipient.”

Every two seconds someone in the United States needs lifesaving blood. That includes accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients and those receiving treatments for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell.

So far in 2018, the Montana Red Cross has collected almost 33,000 units of blood at 1,880 drives. That includes more than 6,000 units of blood collected in the Kalispell area alone.

Donations tend to decline this time of year when busy holiday schedules cause regular donors to be less available and many blood drives are canceled because of severe winter storms.

That’s why donating now is so important.

“It’s a critical time of the year for blood donations, and it’s important to remember that patients across Montana can’t survive without your generosity,” said Diane Wright, Montana Red Cross executive director. “The need for blood doesn’t stop for the holidays.”

A blood donation takes about an hour from start to finish, but the actual donation itself takes only eight to 10 minutes.

There are several Red Cross blood drives planned in Kalispell area over the next few weeks.

• Dec. 28 - Flathead County Health Department, 1035 1st Ave. W., 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

• Dec. 31 : Kalispell Blood Donation Center, 126 North Meridian Road, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

• Jan. 4 - Kalispell Blood Donation Center, 126 North Meridian Road, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

• Jan. 4 : Prestige Assisted Living, 125 Glenwood Drive, 11 a.m.-3:15 p.m.

• Jan. 7 - Kalispell Blood Donation Center, 126 North Meridian Road, 1-6 p.m.

• Jan. 11 -- Kalispell Blood Donation Center, 126 North Meridian Road, Kalispell, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

To schedule an appointment to donate, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or use the free Red Cross Blood Donor app. Making an appointment and completing a RapidPass online health history questionnaire help can reduce the time it takes to give.

The Laumans agree donating blood is one of the most important gifts you can give this holiday season.

“If it weren’t for the donors many people could not have life,” Lauman’s wife Lois said. “Dale being one of them.”

Matt Ochsner is the regional communications director for the American Red Cross of Idaho and Montana.

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