FORT LORAMIE – Up to 8 inches of snow fell across Shelby County on Feb. 16, threatening to bury all hope for the all-day blood drive in St. Michael’s Hall. But the plows came early, the sun smiled, and more than 200 donors braved temperatures in the teens to help save the winter blood supply.
Community Blood Center started the day with an urgent need for type O positive blood, and looming concerns that winter weather cancellations might bring an abrupt halt to nearly all collections. Instead, St. Michael’s and three other community blood drives carried on Tuesday without delay.
St. Michael’s Hall was the key blood drive of the day. CBC registered 323 donors across the region Tuesday, and 224 were St. Michael’s donors. The blood drive included 194 whole blood donors, 16 platelet and plasma donors, and a full schedule of 14 COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma donors.
Blood drive coordinator Jane Poeppelman and CBC account representative Dana Puterbaugh had contingency plans in place long before the first flake fell.
“I did a lot of texting with Dana!” said Poeppelman. “I contacted St. Michael’s Hall manager Nick Eilerman to make sure the parking lot was cleared off. It was cleared at 8 a.m. Matt Hoying put out a county-wide email, everything was set up, and we put it on Facebook. People showed up. It’s Fort Loramie!”
“Everybody went above and beyond,” said Puterbaugh. “They made sure we got in the building and everything was ready. They were awesome. This was a tough one.”
Poeppelman also thanked her long-time volunteers with the Fort Loramie American Legion Ladies Auxiliary, the Fort Loramie Community Service Club, St. Michael’s Church and the St. Michael’s Knights of St. John.
“We know it’s one of the significant ones,” Poeppelman said. “These people take a great deal of pride in giving blood and helping out.”
It was late in the day before contractor Kevin Pleiman put away his snow thrower. “We got eight inches,” he said. The mountain of snow at the edge of the parking lot stood as testimony to the work that went into keeping the blood drive on schedule.
Pharmacist Kelsey Smith got help covering her 6 a.m. shift in Celina so she would be sure to make her appointment to donate. “It’s my first donation since 2019 and I wanted to do it again,” she said.
“There are a lot of people here!” said Anna donor Gwen Eilerman, who donated alongside her husband Matt Eilerman. “It’s hard to keep us down!”
Their children attend Fort Loramie High School, which held its campus blood drive on Feb. 11 despite a two-hour snow delay.
“We don’t get bothered by much,” said Matt. “We just keep trucking along!”
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Michael’s Hall hosted three blood drives in 2020 with 780 donors, only a 10% decline from 2019. St. Michael’s added COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma collection and has hosted two plasma-only drives.
Jen Wysocki and her mother Barb Meyer came from Russia to donate convalescent plasma at St. Michael’s Hall. It was the first attempt for Meyer and the third CCP donation for Wysocki, who has donated CCP in Versailles and St. Remy’s Hall.
“It seems everyone’s had it. There were consequences of getting it,” Wysocki said about the death of community members. “I want to do it while I still have the antibodies.”
Minster’s Julia Wuebker has 80 whole blood donations and made her first CCP donation.
“I’m usually whole blood,” said Wuebker, “but since I recovered from COVID, I thought about donating plasma to help COVID patients.”
St. Michael’s Hall will host four community blood drives in 2021, with the next on April 20.
Blood donation requirements: Donors are required to provide a photo ID that includes their full name. Past CBC donors are also asked to bring their CBC donor ID card. Donors must be at least 17 years of age (16 years old with parental consent: form available at www.givingblood.org or at CBC branch & blood drive locations), weigh a minimum of 110 pounds (you may have to weigh more, depending on your height), and be in good physical health. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changes blood donor eligibility guidelines periodically. Individuals with eligibility questions are invited to email email@example.com. Make an appointment at www.DonorTime.com or call 937-461-3220.