Giving blood can make a big difference in the lives of many people. Whether it be a patient in the emergency room, a cancer patient going through chemotherapy or a patient with a chronic blood condition, giving blood is a simple and impactful way to effectively change lives for the better.

Nearly 25% of the blood supply is used to help treat patients with cancer and the Red Cross is offering an important reminder during Breast Cancer Awareness Month that individuals with breast cancer, and other cancers, may need important blood products throughout the course of their cancer treatment.

The Red Cross is currently experiencing an emergency blood shortage and is inviting individuals to consider giving blood in order to help keep a healthy supply of blood for patients in need. In fact, this fall the blood supply dropped to its lowest number in at least six years.

Two people who understand the importance of donating blood are Fergus Falls residents Phyllis Knutson and Dolly Johnson. The two women have been volunteering with the Red Cross for many years and work hard to make sure patients in need are able to access the life-saving blood they need. They currently serve as chairpersons for Red Cross blood drives.

Johnson started volunteering in 1988 and Knutson in the early 1960s.

Knutson took a break from volunteering while working as a nurse, but began again in 2003.

These two hard-working women plan, organize and conduct Red Cross blood drives in Fergus Falls three times a year. Each drive collects approximately 200 units of blood, for an average total of 600 units of blood every year.

“I realize how important the bloodmobile is in town,” said Knutson, reflecting on her experience as a nurse. “There are many people who survive on getting units of blood.”

Johnson shared that a good friend of hers had acute leukemia and needed blood nearly every week during treatment. “That really made us aware of the need for blood,” she said.

Many people rely on donated blood to get through their illness, disease, surgery or accident. “It’s a life-saving project that we’re working with,” Knutson explained.

”Who knows?” asked Johnson. “I may need it tomorrow.”

Knutson shared that this life-saving work could not be done without the help of other volunteers and those who show up to donate.

“We have some wonderful donors. Some have given over 150 units of blood through their lifetime,” she exclaimed. One regular donor is over 95 years old and comes in to donate every time the bloodmobile comes to town.

“We love our donors and we thank them very much for their willingness to take the time to come in and donate blood for saving people’s lives,” said Knutson.

About 80% of blood donations throughout the nation are made at blood drives organized by volunteers like Knutson and Johnson. The women work together for a life-saving cause and demonstrate community service that has a profound impact on people’s lives.

Other notable volunteers include Laureen Larson who has volunteered for over 20 years and Judy Bradow who has volunteered for over 15 years. To learn more about volunteering or hosting a blood drive visit RedCrossBlood.org/HostADrive.

“It’s wonderful to donate blood. You save lives,” stated Knutson. “It’s a life-saving gift.”

The next Red Cross blood drive in Fergus Falls will be held Jan. 19 — 21, 2022. To find donation opportunities and sign up to give visit redcrossblood.org.

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