Jeff and Wendy Von Haden know the importance of donating blood. The Tomah couple was among more than 100 people who donated blood during a two-day drive coordinated by Tomah Health and Versiti BloodCenter of Wisconsin at Tomah Recreation Park May 24 & 25.
“I started donating about five years ago when a co-worker needed blood badly and blood banks were really low. It was a scary time and it got me going,” Wendy recalled.
While the husband and wife have donated individually, it was the first time their schedules aligned and they donated together. “I signed up and asked if he (Jeff) wanted to come,” Wendy said with a smile.
Jeff, a teacher in the Tomah School District, said he donates whenever he can, typically when drives are held at the Tomah High School. “I like donating at the high school because the kids see that and hopefully will follow suit,” he said.
Wendy and Jeff said the fact that Tomah Health receives blood from Versiti BloodCenter is also an important reason to donate and support the local hospital.
“It is awesome to hear that we are hopefully helping somebody in our own community and save a life someday. It’s painless and it’s nice to help your community out,” Jeff said. “It’s really pretty easy,” Wendy added. “It takes about an hour out of your time and is really worth it. I always think what if it’s me that needs it and there’s no blood there.”
Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin account representative Emalea Cogdill said Tomah area residents are loyal donors who see the need for donations and understand how they can give back to their community. “One in seven people entering a hospital are going to need a blood product and someone needs blood every two seconds, so we need to continue to maintain a stable blood supply here in Tomah, across our state and nationwide,” she said.
Cogdill said the May 24 & 25 drive collected enough blood products to save up to 331 lives.
“Donors in Tomah continue to show up in huge numbers to help us provide the blood products necessary at Tomah Health and our community hospitals,” Cogdill said. Versiti is the sole supplier of blood to nearly 50 hospitals in Wisconsin including Tomah Health. “My hope is that donors continue to see the need through the summer months and continue to show up,” she added.
Blood drives have been moved from Tomah Health due to continued COVID visitor restrictions at the hospital. The next Tomah Health blood drive is scheduled July 27 & 28 at Recreation Park.