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Letter: Thanks to everyone who ran Bemidji’s blood bank

I was sorry to hear of the recent closing of the Mississippi Headwaters Blood Bank. I have been a member of the blood bank for nearly 60 years and have donated several gallons of blood.

I recall donating my first pint at the age of 17. I was in the Bemidji unit of the Army National Guard and one Monday evening instead of drill, 1st Sgt. Ollie Julin and Company CO, Cap. Delbert Lindseth marched the entire company from the old Armory at Third Street and Bemidji Avenue to the old hospital at Eight Street and Bemidji Avenue. There were about 100 men that night who donated to what was then called the Beltrami County War Memorial blood bank. A few years later the name was changed.

In my younger years I gave blood about once a year, but was occasionally called out unexpectedly. One New Year’s Eve about 9 p.m. the blood bank called to ask me to come in to the hospital. Seems there was a bad auto accident and someone needed B positive. That’s when I found out my boss, Postmaster Harold Fruetel, was also a B positive and was there to donate. I was glad to do my part, but it did cut down on celebrating New Year’s with my wife later on.

My reason for writing this letter is to thank the people who organized and ran the blood bank and especially thank all the folks who have donated this life giving substance over the years. Also, I want to encourage all young people to start giving blood. It’s an easy thing to do and takes just a few minutes of your time. Your body regenerates the missing blood in a couple months and it’s not a one-time thing like organ donation; you can keep giving blood all your life, again and again and again. While I have never needed a transfusion myself, one never knows when your time may come.

John Hurlbert