FORT LORAMIE – St. Valentine’s Day celebrations had come and gone by the time St. Michael’s Hall hosted its first blood drive of the year on Feb. 18.
But the hall was filled with pink and red paper hearts and many heart-felt messages for one of the blood drive’s greatest champions, Irene Boerger.
Boerger helped the blood drives rise to prominence during her four decades as Community Blood Center’s account representative for Shelby County. The hearts were part of a giant get well card for Boerger, who is recovering from injuries suffered in a recent fall.
“Irene is a tough person,” blood drive coordinator Jane Poeppelman said as she taped new paper heart messages to the get well card. “I think she’s been a little down, but we hope this will pick her up.”
“I wrote ‘Get Well,’” Fort Loramie donor Ed “Zeke” Sanders said. “We have four or five women who come down to the American Legion on Saturday nights, and she wins the drawing every time. Tell her when she gets better, I’ll let her win!”
The three St. Michael’s Parish blood drives are sponsored by the Fort Loramie Community Service Club, American Legion Auxiliary and Knights of St. John. In 2019 they totaled 870 donors to earn CBC’s top-honor Platinum Award.
The Feb. 18 blood drive totaled 255 donors, including 225 red cell donations, 18 platelet and plasma donors, and 10 double red cell donations.
St. Michael’s donors again are helping CBC meet the challenges of 2020. The large turnout helps supply blood to a growing number of hospitals outside CBC’s traditional 15-county region. The full schedule for platelet and plasma donations included women and younger donors.
The blood drive also featured the return of double red blood cell donations. It allows donors with type-O blood type to make a double donation, followed by a 16-week deferral period before their next donation. Single whole blood donations are followed by an eight-week deferral.
“I farm,” McCartyville donor Leonard Albers said as he made a double red cell donation. “If I was to go every eight weeks, sometimes it doesn’t work out. I guess it makes it easier on my schedule. I like it, and I want to help more people.”
John Pleiman, husband of former CBC account representative Kathy Pleiman, made his first blood donation since suffering a stroke in November 2018. New information about the cause of his stroke meant eliminating medications that prevented him from donating. Now he’s back to his routine of double red cell donations.
“I can do it every 16 weeks, and I could always come to Fort Loramie for the schedule,” Pleiman said. “It was easy.”
“It works into my schedule better because of county commission and farming duties,” Shelby County Commissioner and double red cell donor Tony Bornhorst said. “Instead of six times a year, it’s three times a year. I don’t like missing. The idea is to make sure you’re here.”
A new generation of young blood donors at St. Michael’s was represented by Russia High School donors Ashley Scott and Riley Hammonds. Scott started donating at age 16 and made her milestone fifth lifetime donation Feb. 18. Hammonds recently turned 16 and made her first lifetime donation.
Brody Hyre started donating at Versailles High School and is now part of a new generation of platelet donors. Hyre is studying music education at Capital University and would like to be a high school band director. As a tuba player, he shares a dream with every Ohio State fan who plays the instrument.
“Dot the ‘i,’ that’s actually a goal,” Hyre said. “Capital students can actually march with the Ohio State band. I’ve been a Buckeye fan my whole life.”
His platelet donation Feb. 18 at St. Michael’s was part of another goal. By donating platelets every two months, he can collect all six Big 6 Challenge platelet donor T-shirts.
“I saw the Big 6 Challenge,” Hyre said, “and thought I’ll challenge myself to do it.”