Every day someone in the area needs blood or blood products. This someone (or someones) could be from Danbury. This someone could be from a neighboring town. This someone could be a total stranger. Every other month, LifeServe visits Danbury and collects blood and sometimes double donations from volunteers. In December they didn't even print a press release because they had already filled their appointments before the drive. The list of donors can be found in this Review.
Sometimes people from here drive past the fire station and go to neighboring drives, and vice versa. Sometimes they go all the way to Sioux City. Sometimes when they go all the way to Sioux City, they go beyond giving just blood. While there are numerous blood volunteers who give blood and blood products, these two mentioned their extraordinary donations and thus are representing those who give outside the normal blood donation.
Brian Seuntjens gave his first unit of blood on 2007. Five years later he, for the most part, no longer gives just blood, but he gives blood platelets. These platelets are used for a variety of patients including cancer patients, burn patients. His donations have totalled 37 gallons of blood and blood products.
According to the LifeServe website, a platelet donation is a procedure where only the platelet and/or white blood cells are collected via a cell separating machine. The remaining blood components (red blood cells and plasma) are returned to the donor during the donation. Platelet donations are used primarily in cancer and leukemia patients, as well as transplant recipients, burn patients and patients suffering from bleeding disorders.
"I missed the bus in town in 2012 and was going to Sioux City anyway so decided to give blood there," said Seuntjens, and nearly 13 year platelet donor. "I saw the pamphlet to do platelets so decided to do it, and I've been doing platelets ever since. I also have a high platelet count so they get three units out of me where they normally get two."
"Our platelet donors give a very special gift," said Danielle West, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at LifeServe Blood Center. "Cancer patients, burn victims, and other patients battling illness and injury often rely on platelets as part of their treatment and recovery plans. Cancer patients are the number one recipient of platelet products. These products are needed daily to save lives in our community."
Seuntjens added that it takes two hours to give platelets, so he takes his computer to keep him busy. He can give up to 24 times a year. The only downside with platelets is that they only survive for 5 days.
"I feel like I'm doing good for somebody," he added.
Carol Weber, with ABblood, is well liked by LifeServe and receives calls frequently to give plasma. She has been a plasma donor for the past 2 years but has been giving blood for more than 40 years.
Next week Carol will again give plasma, but it will be convalescent plasma. Convalescent plasma is given to symptomatic Covid positive patients to ease the symptoms. While it isn't a cure for the disease, it has been proven to help in healing. Only people who have had Covid are able to provide convalescent plasma.
According to the LifeServe website, convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood that is collected from individuals who have recently recovered from COVID-19. COVID-19 patients develop antibodies in their plasma that attack the virus. Convalescent plasma is being used as an experimental treatment for patients currently battling COVID-19.
"I had Covid-19 in late October," said Weber. "My symptoms were fever, chills, headache, some loss of taste and smell, and fatigue. These lasted about 5 days. Fortunately my employer, Security National Bank and Insurance, was able to provide me with the resources to be able to work from home. All of the insurance line calls were transferred to my cell phone, and my boss dropped off all the work from my desk along with a computer to use. My co-workers back at the office were extremely helpful whenever I needed something printed and mailed to an insured. At Security National Bank & Insurance Agency, our motto is "Everything Matters" so we think creatively and reach further to do what we need to for our customers."
We're asking for the public's help to spread the word and for people who have recovered from COVID to step up and donate," added West. "Only plasma given to a community blood center such as LifeServe Blood Center can help local hospital patients. Convalescent Plasma is one of the only treatments for COVID-19 patients. We've seen great success with convalescent plasma helping COVID-19 patients recover."
Weber asks everyone to please continue to social distance and wear a mask in public. She adds that she plans to get the vaccine as soon as her health care provider says it is available to her. Currently the state is providing the vaccine to healthcare workers.
LifeServe will be in Danbury again on Feb. 24th from 2:00 until 6:30. Text ‘LIFESERVE' to 999-777 to set up a time to give.