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It's a good week to donate blood

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BAXTER — For 45 minutes to an hour of your time, you could save three lives.

This is the time it takes to donate blood and this week Brainerd lakes area residents have many opportunities to donate as the American Red Cross began its blood drive Monday at Heritage Assembly of God in Baxter. The blood drives runs daily from 1-7 p.m. through Friday and again from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 12 at Consolidated Telecommunications and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 13 at Culver’s in Baxter.

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Dee Severson, coordinator for the American Red Cross, said the blood drive at the Baxter church is the largest drive in a five-state area for the number of days and the volume of people. Severson said Monday there are still several openings for people to call in to donate blood. Those interested can call her at 838-5433 to make an appointment to donate.

“Donating blood is very important,” said Severson. “The blood banks are low again. And one unit of blood may be used to save three lives.“

Severson said the goal this week is to collect 905 units of blood. There’s about 30 volunteers with the American Red Cross helping with the blood drive.

Ed Key, who does donor recruitment for the American Red Cross, said, “We’re falling short for September in Minnesota by several hundred units. In Minnesota, we use 700-800 units a day. This is a good time for people to come out and donate.”

On Monday, the first day of the blood drive, people were donating blood.

Max Bess, East Gull Lake, donates blood four to five times a year. He first began donating blood in 1960 when a friend needed blood because he had an ulcer condition.

“A bunch of us donated blood to help our friend with a blood transfusion,” said Bess. “I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Bess, who is 80, said he donates the main reason he donates blood is to help those in need. He also donates because for personal reasons, as it gets the iron out of his blood, which helps with heart diseases.

“I also enjoy the company when donating,” said Bess.

Peggy Langer of Baxter said she has donated blood many times in her life. She started in the early 80s, when her youngest child was born.

“It’s one of those little things you can do to help,” said Langer. “My husband was doing it and it took me awhile to go in to donate blood because I was scared, but I did and it was all fine.

“Donating blood can make such a difference. We’ve had family illnesses that needed a lot of medical attention and have needed blood.”

Laura Larson of Little Falls, who works at CliftonLarsonAllen in Brainerd, donated on her lunch break.

“I’ve donated for four years,” said Larson. “At first I struggled with my hemoglobin and was unable to donate, but they taught me how to be a successful donor.”

The American Red Cross does have deferrals because potential donors don’t have enough iron in their blood. Larson said she was taught that taking a tablespoon of molasses morning, noon and night is a quick fix and helps get her iron up. Other iron-rich sources include spinach, liver and Grape Nuts.

“This is a small thing that I can do to help and one donation can save three lives,” said Larson on donating blood. “Everyone has a neighbor or knows a military member who may need blood at one point in their lives and this costs nothing. This is one of those pay it forward things to do.”

Larson said the blood banks are always low and even donating one will make a difference.

“They run a smooth operation here,” said Larson.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl.

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