VERSAILLES — The annual Midmark and Versailles High School National Honor Society blood drive has always brought out the best of Versailles, combining the town’s patriarch employer with a new generation of leaders in community service. The Nov. 16 blood drive at the Knight of Columbus Hall carried on through the COVID-19 pandemic, and broke new ground.
Midmark Corporation is a traditional sponsor of the NHS blood drive, but it is now sponsoring multiple employee-community blood drives that are part of a new monthly rotation at the KOC. In addition, Monday’s blood drive was the first in the area to offer the opportunity for COVID-19 survivors to donate convalescent plasma for coronavirus patients.
The blood drive registered 80 donors, including 14 platelet and plasma donors and three convalescent plasma donors. All three were donating convalescent plasma for the first time. It was the first lifetime blood donation for Versailles donor Jan Berger.
“I got the COVID, and my daughter told me about the need for plasma,” said Jan. “It was to save somebody else’s life. I definitely wanted to do it.”
She tried to register for a CCP donation at the St. Remy’s Hall blood drive in Russia, but all appointments were filled. She was happy to learn she could donate in her hometown. “They told me Versailles was doing it also and I said ‘awesome’ and called right away.”
Jan said her COVID-19 infection happened in August and she was ill for about 10 days. “Mostly it was bad headaches,” she said. “My head hurt so bad.” Her husband was also infected and was ill for 14 days.
“I wanted to be able to give,” she said. “I know it can be very severe. I have a friend in the hospital right now.”
Whole blood donors Monday included Tony Bruns from Versailles who made his 132nd lifetime donation. Tony began donating 45 years ago when his wife first battled cancer. “That’s how I first started,” he said. He lost her to a brain cancer 22 years ago. “I kept giving. I’m always here.”
Morgan Rinderle is a senior at Versailles High School who volunteers at the school blood drives and is a regular donor at the KOC blood drives. She made her sixth lifetime donation Monday.
Morgan is in the school band, bowling team, and is a mascot. She’s trying to have as normal a senior year as possible during a pandemic.
“We’ve been in class since school started,” she said. “It’s normal, except at lunch you can only have four people at a table instead of the usual eight to 10!”
Janet Lutham has donated at Versailles KOC blood drives over the years and made her first CCP donation Monday. She thought she was suffering from allergies in August, but an antibody test later confirmed it was COVID-19.
“I thought I had allergies, but by the end of the week I couldn’t smell, taste was zero!” she said. “I thought, oh my gosh, I thought I had allergies. I really did not get sick. If it wasn’t for the loss of taste, I would not have realized I had it.”
She went through some anxious days, waiting for a negative test results to come back just in time to confirm that she could attend her son’s wedding. Her last blood donation was in September and she scheduled a CCP donation for when she was again eligible.
“I would have done whole blood if that’s what was needed,” said Janet. “But because of COVID, and having the antibodies, that’s why I chose it.”