RUSSIA — St. Remy’s Hall blood drive coordinator Carl York celebrated his milestone 100th lifetime donation at the May 10 blood drive in Russia. Carl and his wife Betty are both dedicated donors and together helped steer the blood drive through the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
St. Remy Catholic Church blood drives have traditionally been among the largest in Shelby County. They include machines for platelet and plasma donations and support comes from near and far.
The St. Remy’s Knights of Columbus raised money for the blood drive and an army of volunteers served barbecue pork and chicken sandwiches and homemade cookies in the Donor Café.
Carl would stack plastic cups like poker chips, ready to serve juice to donors. “At the beginning of the day I set up stacks of 10 cups,” Carl said at the Aug. 20, 2019, blood drive. “So, we’ve had more than 120 – that’s how I know where we’re at!”
It was another jackpot on that day in 2019 with 207 donors. Then came the rollercoaster ride of change during the first year of the pandemic.
The April 2020 blood drive at St. Remy’s totaled 132 whole blood and 15 platelet donors, a lower turnout by St. Remy’s standards but huge for Community Blood Center during the early stage of the pandemic. The August 2020 blood drive was held over two days to allow more social distancing and totaled 206 whole blood donors.
In November and December 2020 St. Remy’s hosted “Crisis Warrior” COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma drives, when plasma from COVID survivors was in high demand for treating COVID patients. In early 2021 St. Remy’s added a blood drive in January and another convalescent plasma drive in February.
Many restrictions on blood drive scheduling, volunteers, and refreshments continued into 2021. The three blood drives at St. Remy’s Hall totaled 247 whole blood donors and 27 platelet donors.
Carl kept to his routine throughout the pandemic, donating at the St. Remy’s, St. Michael’s and Houston blood drives. He donates when eligible and averages five or six donations per year.
His 100th donation helped the May 10 St. Remy’s blood drive total 70 whole blood donors, plus six platelet donors. He’ll be stacking the plastic cups for donors again at the next blood drive in September.