Four local blood drives planned this month to ease 'critical' need

The need for blood is a constant at hospitals and surgical clinics in the lakes area, yet Vitalant — the sole provider of blood and blood products in the lakes area — says they see as many as 6,000 fewer donations during the month of December as they do at other times of the year. With four public blood drives planned in Detroit Lakes this holiday season, it's never been easier for local residents to consider providing this lifesaving gift.

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Vitalant, the region's main supplier of blood and blood products, says that donations fall steeply during the month of December, which is why no fewer than four public blood drives are planned for the community of Detroit Lakes over the next three weeks, starting with next Saturday's event at Holy Rosary Catholic Church. (Adobe Stock photo)
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When it comes to things like toys, hats, gloves, mittens and even socks, Detroit Lakes area residents are endlessly generous during the holiday season, supporting a wide variety of charitable drives between late November and early January.

Yet local donations of blood historically ebb dramatically during the holiday season, according to blood supplier Vitalant (formerly United Blood Services).

"On average, more than 6,000 fewer (blood) donations are given in December than at other times of the year," says Alyssa Hagedorn, donor recruitment representative for Vitalant, which she notes is "the sole provider of blood and blood products in this area."

Detroit Lakes resident Alysssa Hagedorn became the senior donor recruitment representative for Vitalant about six months ago. She says she is one of thousands of people who owe their lives to blood donation. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)


Hagedorn, who lives in Detroit Lakes, says that the need for blood — along with blood products like platelets and plasma — is constant, adding that she owes her own life to a past blood platelet donation.

"I had a life-threatening complication during my pregnancy with my first daughter," she said, noting that she had been diagnosed with HELLP syndrome .

Needing an emergency C-section to bring her daughter into the world, Hagedorn relied on a platelet infusion to get through the birth. Because platelets — which have a very short shelf life — are not kept on hand at the local hospital, a Minnesota State Patrol trooper had to bring them from the Vitalant blood bank in Fargo to Essentia Health St. Mary's in Detroit Lakes.

"That helped save my life," she said.

When she learned that Vitalant was looking for a new donor recruitment representative in this area, Hagedorn applied, and was hired for the position about six months ago.

Since then, she has been busy helping to organize local blood drives and hook up potential donors with ways to give that don't require a drive to the nearest blood bank, which is an hour away.

Four drives are scheduled for Detroit Lakes in December:

  • They start off with a Catholic Daughters-sponsored event at Holy Rosary Catholic Church this coming Saturday, Dec. 11. The drive will run from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. inside St. John's Hall. The church is located at 1043 Lake Ave.
  • Detroit Lakes High School, located at 1301 Roosevelt Ave., will host a blood drive on Wednesday, Dec. 15 from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
  • Dynamic Homes, located at 525 Roosevelt Ave., will host a visit from the Vitalant blood mobile on Wednesday, Dec. 22, with appointments available from 1:45 to 4:15 p.m.
  • The Detroit Lakes Breakfast Rotary is sponsoring a drive at First Lutheran Church, 912 Lake Ave., on Wednesday, Dec. 29 from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Mary Buschette, the coordinator for Saturday's drive at Holy Rosary, says that there are still openings available, mostly in the afternoon, but even those who can only make it in the morning should still call.
"We don't want to turn anyone away," she said, adding that as of this Thursday, only 33 out of the 53 donor slots Vitalant had requested were filled. "They do take walk-ins, so just call ahead, and we'll try to squeeze you in."


Buschette added that those interested in taking part in the Dec. 15 drive should call 218-234-6897 to schedule a time; donors should use Holy Rosary's Washington Avenue entrance, as it is closest to where the blood draws are being made.

Anyone who is interested in donating at any of the above-mentioned blood drive events can also schedule an appointment online at , or contact Hagedorn directly, either by email at , or by phone at 701-306-7984 (call or text). You can also call toll-free at 877-25-VITAL.

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