Nostalgic setting brings in donors at a much needed time
By Eileen Persike, Editor.
There was no Trapper John, Hawkeye Pierce or Hot Lips Hoolihan at the Hodag MASH blood drive set up in Pioneer Park Tuesday. But the spirit of a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital was all around. Staffed by the Community Blood Center, the local non-profit blood supplier for hospitals in the Rhinelander area, the MASH blood drive included tents, camouflage, olive drab and dog tags and nearly 150 donors.
“Giving blood at MASH is really a great experience,” said Jerry Shidell, Community Blood Center board member and event organizer. “You’re surrounded by people who want to make a difference and you start to realize the impact of what you’re doing.”
Rhinelander resident Billie Fisher understands that impact well. Her father died seven years ago from cancer, but the end of his life was changed due to donated blood.
“He was told he had only a short time to live, but was given blood to stay alive until family could get here to say good bye,” Fisher said. “Those donors gave me and my family an extra 33 hours with my father.”
Fisher and her family continue to pay it forward every summer. “My whole family donates in his memory this time of year. It really brings an importance to the cause.”
“The need for blood stays the same throughout the year,” explained Interim Marketing and Communications Manager Lisa Koeppen. “But in the summertime people get busy with their vacations and holidays and summer activities and they aren’t in their regular routines. We encourage everyone to donate during the summer.”
The Blood Center is also a donor center for the National Marrow Donor program, facilitating transplants for patients with life-threatening diseases.
This is the sixth year for the MASH event in Rhinelander. Koeppen added that it’s just plain fun, with army-green tee shirts for donors and lunch provided by Ministry St. Mary’s Auxillary. “MASH marks an exciting time of the year, especially for residents who want to give back to their community. Donating blood or volunteering the gift of time is simply the right thing to do!”
At the end of the day, after the tents were rolled up and the dog tags stashed for another year, the MASH unit had collected 147 pints of blood, and saw 28 first-time donors. Koeppen encourages everyone who could not make it to the event Tuesday to sign up and donate when it’s convenient.