When Darrell Neitzel donates blood, he is making an impact — times two. The Tomah resident made a double red cell donation during the Tomah Health/Versiti Blood Center drive at Tomah’s Recreation Park May 27.
“I have been giving the dual reds for about the last three or four years,” Neitzel said. “Since I have O negative blood which is in demand, I decided I would try to give more if I could.”
A double red cell donation is similar to a whole blood donation, except a special machine allows the donor to donate two units of red blood cells during one donation. People with O type blood and those with certain Rh-negative blood types, including A negative and B negative, are encouraged to donate double red blood cells because red cells are the most transfused blood product and the highest in demand by the hospitals. A dual red donation takes about 25 minutes compared to about 15 minutes for a regular whole blood donation, and a person can make a double red donation every 112 days or three times a year.
In addition to his dual red donations, Neitzel has been donating blood for about eight years.
“I think it’s something that we should all do to help out our fellow citizens because we never know when we’re going to be the one who needs blood,” Neitzel said.
For the person who has never donated before, Neitzel has a simple, but convincing message: “This is something you can do for your fellow man and it doesn’t hurt, doesn’t take that long and somebody’s going to reap the benefits.”
More than 80 donors, including four double red donations were collected during the two-day, May 27-28 Tomah Health/Versiti Blood Center drive, which Versiti account representative Emalea Cogdill said will help save 239 lives.
“Tomah residents are so generous in their donations,” Cogdill said. “The community steps up and does everything that they can do to help us.”
Versiti is the sole supplier of blood to more than 50 hospitals in Wisconsin including Tomah Health.
“In 2021 so far, I would say our drives are very steady. Our blood supply, however, in the last couple of months has been struggling,” Cogdill said. “As we approach the summer months, we will see an extra need for blood due to an increase in accidents and with the decrease in donations we have had recently, we are doing a lot of catching up right now.”
The next Tomah Health/Versiti blood drive will be a two-day event scheduled July 27 and 28 at Tomah Recreation Park.