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Crystal Lake blood bank asks for help

Published: Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 11:27 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 9:19 a.m. CDT
(Sarah Nader –
Warren Cotton (left) of Algonquin has his blood drawn Wednesday by phlebotomist Christina Butti at Heartland Blood Center in Crystal Lake. Cotton has been donating blood for around 30 years; he tries to donate every couple of months.

CRYSTAL LAKE – Ardelle Legel says giving back is in her blood.

Literally. In. Her. Blood.

The 85-year-old Crystal Lake resident has donated blood more than three dozen times since 1999 – 37 donations to be exact.

"It always makes me feel good, and I don't need it," Legel said, shrugging.

She jokes that she and other donors chat, gab and even compete to see who can get finished with their blood donation first. Not that there's anything she can do to control the outcome, Legel says she's usually a winner.

"My blood seems to come out very fast," she said.

A local blood bank is urging people to be more like Legel when it comes to donating blood. Heartland Blood Centers is citing a blood shortage and blaming it on this season's severe weather.

Heartland's marketing director Roxie Kaminski says the Crystal Lake blood bank has seen numerous cancellations because of severe weather.

The organization, which provides blood to nearly 50 hospitals in a 12-county region, says it is 2,000 units below normal levels for this time of year. Blood donated in McHenry County goes to Centegra hospitals.

Kaminski says 600 units of blood a day are needed to supply hospitals in their region.

Because blood can't be manufactured, any shortage makes donors that much more critical.

Each person who donates, Kaminski said, can save up to three lives with their donation.

Tuesday will be Legel's 38th donation when she donates blood at a drive organized by her friend, Ellen Hanson, and through Heartland Blood Centers. Hanson began organizing blood drives in honor of her son, Andy Hanson, a leukemia survivor.

Though it was 20 years ago, Hanson remembers how frightened Andy was during his first blood transfusion. He didn't want someone else's blood pumping through his veins. Ellen Hanson told her scared son to close his eyes and picture the face of a family friend who was known to donate blood.

"I told him to imagine [her] face," Ellen Hanson said. "I said, 'She's the one you giving you the gift of life.' "

The blood drive Tuesday will be from 3 to 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake, 461 Pierson St. Walk-ins are welcome.

If you go Blood Drive When: 3 to 7 p.m. today Where: First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake, 461 Pierson St.

Upcoming blood drives in McHenry County

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