The University Record, January 21, 1997

Building Services employees help ease blood shortage

Donors Kee Condict (far left, standing), Ann Kralik (far right , on table) and Milica Dogi (foreground) donate blood to the American Red Cross in response to their emergency request. Nurses Renee McComas (second from left) and Betsy DeWitt helped collect the blood volunteers donated.

Photo by Bob Kalmbach

In response to a plea from the Washtenaw County Chapter of the American Red Cross, Building Services employees lined up to donate blood. The extra blood drive, prompted by a lack of types O and B red blood cells in all of Southeast Michigan, had a goal of 100 pints.

Rudolf Volkmann, custodial supervisor for Building Services, organized the emergency response and also is responsible for organizing the regular blood drives the unit schedules each year. Although their goal during the regular drives has been 40 pints, Volkmann is confident they will come close to meeting the 100-pint goal set for them.

"I think we will reach at least 80," he says. "We have 430 employees, and we have been very successful in the past. This is a good cause. It is important to help serve the whole community."

Support from Building Services Manager Nathan Norman has been very important in making all the drives a success, Volkmann says.

Supplies of O and B blood had reached such low levels following the holiday season that American Red Cross regional representative Stephanie Hall-Sturgis said some hospitals had canceled a number of scheduled elective surgical procedures. By 8 a.m. last Friday, supplies had fallen low enough that "one bleeding patient could use up our remaining supply of certain blood types in Southeast Michigan," she notes.

Typically, the Red Cross sees fewer donations during the holiday season, and cold weather kept donors from coming out earlier in the month. In the past few years, the need for extra blood drives has grown, Hall-Sturgis says. In other years, emergency drives would be needed only once or twice per year. Now, she says, emergency shortages may happen three or four times annually, prompting requests like this one.