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Iowa team members make critical donations

When donating blood you provide lifesaving care to your neighbor, friend, family member or a community member who just went through a major, life-altering medical experience. And three Wellmark employees have continued to make it a point to get those donations in and earn BluesCare GivingSM Personal Volunteer Time in the process!

Due to COVID-19, the demand for blood donations is at an all-time high.

Kathy Bixler, administrative assistant in Agency Management, has four daughters who work in the health care field, and she knows just how important, and lifesaving a blood donation can be.

"I've been donating blood for 15 years," Kathy said. "It's a mere hour out of my day every few months and I know it makes a difference in someone's life. It's something I can do to help."

One donation can support up to three patients

According to Lifeserve Blood Center, which serves more than 120 hospitals in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, one donation can support up to three patients during a critical time of need. There are more than 3,000 units of blood needed every week to meet the needs of hospital patients.

Carol Neal, operations quality coach, who recently celebrated 30 years at Wellmark, has donated more than 45 gallons of blood and tries to give platelets every 14 days. She said, "One of my favorite quotes is, 'The greatest gift you can give someone is your time, because when you give your time, you are giving a portion of your life that you will never get back.' However, with blood donation you do get your blood back. So, for me, it’s one of the best ways to spend my time."

Carol remembers starting to donate through a blood drive at work and she has kept doing it ever since. In fact, recently the manager at LifeServe Blood Center gave her a certificate of appreciation for giving more than 200 donations.

"Platelets are vital for trauma patients and for those with chronic diseases and cancer," she said. "I know I can’t make expensive financial donations, but I'm told I have an awesome platelet count!"

9 out of 10 people will use donated blood in their lifetime

"Donating blood makes sense to me," said Karen Farley, senior underwriter for small group insurance. "I donate because there is a need, I'm helping someone else. It doesn’t take a lot of my time and not everyone can donate blood, but I can."

Nine out of 10 people who live to the age of 70 will use blood during their lifetime, yet less than five percent of the eligible population donates blood. Karen started donating through a blood drive at Wellmark in Des Moines and has given more than 14 gallons since, which is equal to about 112 individual contributions. Early last year, she was asked by Lifeserve to donate convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients in critical need at the hospital.

Giving even more with BluesCare Giving

Kathy, Carol and Karen all use the BluesCare Giving program to make their donations and Personal Volunteer Time (PVT) go even further. By recording their time, The Wellmark Foundation converts PVT hours into monetary contributions to a qualifying nonprofit organization of their choice. Just four hours of volunteering will earn $100 toward a qualifying nonprofit of your choice.

"Nonprofits benefit because I accrue blood donation time and other volunteer hours through the BluesCare Giving program and designate funds to organizations I support," said Karen. "This year, I elected to support the Iowa Academic Decathlon. After they received my donation, I found out they were especially grateful because they had lost one of their larger supporters."

Kathy agrees and says, "There are a couple of charities I hold near and dear to my heart and being able to send that matching gift makes a huge difference to them. BluesCare Giving is fantastic!"

For more information about donating locally and helping others, explore Lifeserve Blood Center External Link and American Red Cross External Link for locations and accessibility. If you have any questions about BluesCare Giving or need assistance, contact The Wellmark Foundation team who will be happy to assist you.