Never Too Busy to Save a Life

By Kay Elmsley Weeden, American Red Cross

It’s hard to imagine someone as busy and caring as Bonnie Schuenke. Outside of her work as a Critical Care RN Case Manager covering the Heart Care Unit, Oncology, and ICU at Waukesha Hospital, at home she fosters dogs for several different rescue organizations. Both of these could be a full-time job in itself.

But today finds Bonnie and her husband, Mark (both pictured, at left), masked and reclined on vinyl cots, each of them hooked up to a blood collection bag. They are betting against each other to see which one will finish first. More often than not, Bonnie wins. And why not? She’s been regularly donating blood through the ARC for more than twenty years, and she makes sure her husband goes with her.

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“This is part of what we should be doing to give back. It’s the right thing to do,” she says.

Bonnie knows that blood donation is quick and easy, and almost daily she sees the effect that blood has on the many patients she cares for. She watches how patients transform once they are given a unit of blood.

“They can go from feeling miserable to feeling so much better in a short time.” It’s akin to liquid gold.

On this World Blood Donor Day (June 14), the American Red Cross is taking a moment to recognize all of the remarkable people like Bonnie and Mark, who step up to give. This past year has been especially challenging on so many levels due to COVID. In March 2020, there were widespread cancellations of blood drives. The Red Cross pivoted with more health and safety measures, new and creative sites for drives, and added information for those who donated, like testing for COVID antibodies.

Through it all, the need for blood remained constant, something Bonnie knows first-hand. For someone who works most of her waking hours treating patients, Bonnie and her husband see donating blood not simply as a chance to volunteer, but as the chance to help save a life. And it truly appeals to them that they can track their donation as it’s being processed and know where it has been sent.

This underscores their feeling that their blood donation means something. “Give Blood. Help Save a Life” is a catchphrase the Red Cross has used to encourage donations. And according to Bonnie, “that is the very impact you have when you donate.”

Her advice: Find a buddy, go together and make it fun.

When was the last time you helped to save a life? If you’d like more info on how to donate blood or platelets, or to make an appointment, please go to redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

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