The gift of life for Christmas


News-Times intern

In the spirit of Christmas giving, the Oak Harbor Lions Club sponsored a blood drive at the First United Methodist Church Monday, Dec. 17, and encouraged Whidbey residents to give the most precious gift of all: the gift of life.

Around 65 people from various parts of the Island County showed up to participate in the blood drive. Most of them were regular donors who give blood at least once a year.

Retired orthodontist Jim Somers was one of the first to give a blood donation. “It’s the right thing to do,” he said when asked why he decided to interrupt his busy holiday schedule to spend time on the gurney.

Attending to Somers was medical technician Tom Richards of the Puget Sound Blood Center. Richards said that the independent, non-profit blood bank is the leading supplier of blood to most hospitals in Western Washington, so giving blood in Island County can save lives throughout the region.

Blood donor Pam Karels, 33, came in to donate her blood wearing a true symbol of the spirit of giving – a Santa hat.

Karels, an animal care technician and volunteer at WAIF in Oak Harbor, is involved in various good causes and says that she donates blood as often as she can. She was regretful that she was not able to bring her children Justin and Jackie with her when she had her blood drawn. “I want them to learn the importance of donating blood,” Karels said. With that she is hopeful that her children would someday embrace the very same charitable undertakings that she has.

Another blood donor, Navy Exchange warehouse manager Wes Norlund, said he gives blood every two months, including full blood donations and apheresis, which is a type of donation where blood components such as plasma, platelets, or white blood cells are drawn.

“I give because there’s a need for blood,” Norlund said. He added that he actually feels better after giving blood.

Norlund shared that he also made an autologous blood donation last year when he had hip surgery. An autologous blood donation is actually a self-donation of blood, usually by a patient who needs to undergo surgery. According to him, it is the best way to get a blood transfusion and is recommended by blood banks themselves because it is safer.

Retired general contractor Michael Mosbrooker was relaxing with a book in hand while waiting for medical technician Becky Brown to draw blood from his arm. Brown works for the Puget Sound Blood Center, and knows how important it is to keep the 70-plus hospitals and clinics in the region supplied with the life-giving fluid.

After giving blood, donors were treated to snacks and other refreshments by Lions Club member and blood drive chairperson Jenny Wilson, who was prepared to serve everybody that day. Other Lions Club members who were present on Monday were Ralph Thornton, Jim Crowe, Richard Hummel, Jim Ryan, John Upah and Bill Cheaqui.

Last year, the Oak Harbor Lions Club was able to gather as much as 50 gallons of blood donations from volunteers who know the importance of giving not just at Christmas, but all year long.

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