The American Red Cross reminds of the importance of your liver

By Thomas Verschelde

October is National Liver Awareness Month, and a number of blood drives are being held in DeKalb and surrounding areas this month due to blood stocks being very low.

“Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion,” said Theresa Kuhlmann, communications program manager of the Mid-America Blood Services Division of the American Red Cross. “There is no substitute for blood, and blood is a perishable product. Patients undergoing major surgery, chemotherapy, organ transplant, newborn babies [and] blood disorder patients need lifesaving blood, and it can only come from volunteer blood donors.”

According to a press release, 14,000 patients received liver transplants in the United States so far this year and 16,000 patients are still waiting. Donated blood is needed for all of these transplants.

“We supply blood to over 46 hospitals in the Chicagoland area,” said Rona Hardt, facilities coordinator of the DeKalb Chapter of the American Red Cross, 2727 Sycamore Rd, Suite 2A.

Hardt said one-third of the United States population supplies the remaining two-thirds with blood.

“A lot of people do not donate blood, and right now we are in dire need of blood,” Hardt said.

According to a press release, the United States needs more than 44,000 blood donations every day.

“If one person donates one pint of blood, it has the potential of saving up to three lives,” Kuhlmann said.

Kuhlmann said the need for blood is constant, and the blood supply must be regularly replenished in order to help transplant patients.

“Recent storm-related events continue to take a toll as floodwaters and wildfires have inundated entire communities and forced the cancellation of nearly 150 Red Cross blood drives, resulting in a shortfall of more than 4,700 blood donations,” Kuhlmann said.

Red Cross blood drives are being in Bureau, Grundy, Iroquis, Kankakee, La Salle and Lee counties. For a full list visit

The DeKalb Chapter of the American Red Cross is also in need of blood service volunteers and interns. These people would coordinate blood drives. For more information call (815)756-7339.

“There is always a shortage of blood throughout northern Illinois,” said Paula von Ende volunteer services director for Kishwaukee Community Hospital, 1 Kish Hospital Drive. “All donors are always needed and welcome.”

Kishwaukee Community Hospital partners with Heartland Blood Centers, 2428 Sycamore Rd. in DeKalb, to host blood drives throughout the year, von Ende said.