Alliance sheds blood for a good cause

An alliance between  the industrial busiesses CDI, Sportech and Alliance Machine in Elk River who hosted a Red Cross Blood Drive on Wednesday, May 8.

“CDI is always looking for things like this to participate in to help our community,” said Pat O’Brien, owner of CDI.

The three companies asked fellow employees to give blood donations, and the response was overwhelming.

“We filled 35 available spots within a matter of days,” said Katie Shatusky, Executive Assistant at Sportech Inc. “And we are already looking at hosting another blood drive in the near future.”

The Red Cross provides about 40 percent of America’s blood supply, and the recent events in Boston and Texas show the importance of blood supply.

Donating blood hits home for several employees at Sportech.

“My sister was recently diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer and has received multiple units of blood since then. She would not be alive and recovering as well as she is today if it wasn’t for people that take an hour every eight weeks to donate blood. It is one of the most simple and directly beneficial ways you can help save a life,” said Brandon Smith, a design engineer at Sportech.

With the recent events in West, Texas, and Boston, Mass., the Red Cross has responded in many ways. The organization has provided additional blood products to the areas, along with shelter, food and additional units of blood, platelets and plasma to Boston-area hospitals and has provided blood products to help those injured by the explosion in Texas. The Red Cross has the ability to move blood around the country to where it is needed most, and it stands ready to assist with any additional requests of blood and blood products.

“The need for blood is constant,” said Darren Irby, executive director of Red Cross Blood Services. “And it’s the blood on the shelves that helps save lives when emergencies occur.”

Eligible blood donors can schedule an appointment to give in the days and weeks ahead, but especially needed are Type O donors. Type O negative blood is often used during emergencies, when there is no time to determine the patient’s blood type.

“Our daughter was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer when she was 18 years old,” said Sheila Swancutt, Human Resource Manager at Sportech. “During the course of her treatment, she received two autologous stem cell transplants.  She needed many blood transfusions as she was recovering.

“Before her diagnosis, we were not aware of the substantial need for blood products. Not everyone is eligible to give blood, but those that can, they are truly saving lives. It helped save hers, and we are grateful,” Swancutt said.

How to donate blood

All blood types are needed to ensure an adequate supply for patients.

A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of positive identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and are generally in good health may be eligible to donate blood. Visit for more information.