Recently the Komatsu Mining Corp facility in Milwaukee, WI hosted a blood drive for the BloodCenter of Wisconsin.  Through the recruitment period employees came to learn that those who benefit from blood donations aren’t always strangers, sometimes it is someone you know.  

In an effort to help inspire donors to come forward Director of Employee Benefits, Amy Kelenic, shared her personal story. For years Amy’s mom Laurie had been a committed blood donor. Like Amy, her mom is O negative, making her a universal donor. Laurie donated regularly, helping countless individuals, until September 2009 when she was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a cancer formed by malignant plasma cells. Laurie had a stem cell transplant (her own) in September 2014. Shortly thereafter she had a complication as a result of the transplant that required her to become dependent on the platelets donated by others. 

Amy Kelenic and Mom Laurie 

Amy shared, “It’s hard to put in words how grateful my family and I were that someone had donated that was a match to mom.  Although mom still battles the complication…it’s a pay it forward story…as it compelled me to reconsider donating after a bad experience years ago. Although I could do it more, since then, I’ve tried to donate every time the opportunity presents itself. I might not be able to thank my mom’s donor specifically, but hopefully I can help another family feel the same gratitude we did.” 

Amy went on to share that despite having identified a donor that matched for platelets – it did not work for her mom.           

“Now, whenever her platelets drop low, she receives an infusion which brings her platelets up.  This is also possible because of the donations of others.  The frequency in which she needs the infusion varies, sometimes once a month.”    

Undoubtedly inspired by Amy’s story, the recent blood drive hit 106% of its goal.  There were 51 donors who gave 53 units of blood, helping save the lives of 159 individuals in the Southeastern Wisconsin community. When we donate we often think about how our gift of blood will help someone in an emergency or in response to an accident but as demonstrated in Amy’s story, the need is always there.  Each day, patients in more than 50 local hospitals served by BloodCenter of Wisconsin need approximately 800 units of blood.