Wendy Savickas – Blood Donor

“My father donated blood ever since I can remember,” says Wendy Savickas, whose donated over seven-gallons with Michigan Blood. “I remember getting calls at our house for him to come donate. That was my first introduction to blood donation, but he never talked much about it or pushed it on us.”

Despite childhood memories and a close family connection to blood donation, it would be decades before Wendy discovered her reason to donate.

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Harley Durham - Blood Donor

“I donate because my mom needed blood,” says Harley Durham. “We almost lost her a couple times.”

Harley’s mother suffered a rare miscarriage a little over six years ago that required a life threatening surgery. “We didn’t know the risk factor at the time, but there was a strong chance she wouldn’t make it, but thankfully she did,” says Harley.

Then this past fall a subsequent surgery resulted in complications that had Harley’s mother in critical condition again. While these two events were the motivation behind Harley’s decision to donate, it has since grown to something more for the Belmont teenager.

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Barny Dykstra - Blood Donor

Barny Dykstra has never needed blood, nor has anyone else in his family. In fact, he can't think of anyone he knows who has. But that doesn’t stop him from being a blood donor. Barny says there’s no great story, or personal need to feel satisfied when it comes to donating blood. It’s simply a choice that he makes.

“My story’s not glamorous, but it's something I wanted to share,” says Barny. “I think there’s a lot people out there looking for something. They’re looking for a reason to help, but you don’t need a reason to give blood.”

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Terry Buschert – A Lifesaving Donor

by Tom Rademacher, Veteran Grand Rapids Press columnist and long-time Michigan Blood donor

For reasons Terry Buschert believes only God might be able to explain, he took a different way home the evening of Thursday, April 3. And as Robert Frost’s poem about the road not taken aptly goes, it’s entirely likely “that has made all the difference,” at least in the life of a young man from Gowen, Michigan.

Michigan Blood might never have known about the heroic efforts of Buschert, had they not contacted him about donating the day after a near-fatal single vehicle accident that nearly claimed the life of the 21-year-old driver.

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Jennifer Eskridge – Stem Cell Donor

For Jennifer Eskridge, a failed attempt to donate blood on a frozen February afternoon in 2012 would ultimately lead to a life changing moment for a stranger she’d never met.

Because her iron was too low that fateful day, Jennifer was deferred from donating blood at a drive being held at her hometown church in Lapeer. But while she may have been deferred from donating, Jennifer was far from deterred.

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David Armbruster - Blood and Platelet Donor

Like so many other blood donors, David Armbruster wants and expects nothing in return for his donation.

“I get enough just knowing that I may have made a difference in someone’s life,” David said.

As a 15-gallon donor, David has a long-standing commitment to blood donation, but he also has personal experience on his side.

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Jen Dougherty - Her Reason To Donate

Jen Dougherty comes from a family of dedicated blood donors, but for whatever reason she always found an excuse not to donate...until her son Caleb was born in 2010.

“We found out at our 18-week ultrasound that Caleb had a very serious heart defect and if he was going to have a chance at survival, he would need surgery shortly after birth,” Jen explained.

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Laura M. - A Mother And Her Newborn Son

Mothers are notorious for solving problems and doing anything and everything to help their children, but sometimes they’re left without the ability to help.

Blood donor Laura M. knows the feeling first hand.

Her son, Jonathan, was born four months early, at 23 weeks in July 2012, on the cusp of viability. Severe anemia plagued him early on and his bones were not developed enough to make an adequate amount of red blood cells to support his breathing.

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Greg Pedelty – Platelet Donor

About every six weeks, Greg Pedelty gets a phone call from Michigan Blood asking him to donate platelets for a patient in the hospital who has a specific match for his blood. The patient is platelet-dependent and because they have received so many transfusions, they have developed certain antibodies, which means they can only receive platelets from a small number of people, called HLA donors.

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Joe Engel: Donating Blood to Make a Difference

by Tom Rademacher, former columnist for the Grand Rapids Press

Joe Engel says he gives blood – 18 gallons to date – because he was talked into it by a former girlfriend he’d met while in college. But the more time you spend with him, one wonders if the reason isn’t just as closely tied to a lesson in grace that he learned during the same period in his life – inside a grimy service station on a cold winter’s night.

Nearly 40 years have passed, but Joe can still see his former boss, John Devine, performing an act of compassion that completely belied the gruff Irishman’s rugged exterior.

A family had limped their car into Devine’s Enco service station – long gone now – on a busy street corner in southeast Grand Rapids.

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