Blood Donors and the Lab Team are ‘Heroes’ in Saving Patients’ Lives

Jan 22, 2018

On a typical spring day in 2011, Dawn Marisch suffered a ruptured aneurism at the elementary school where she was principal. She was taken to the hospital where, over the next four days, she received an extraordinary 90 pints of blood. “I was blessed with remarkable doctors, but without the blood, I would not have survived,” says Marisch, now Curriculum Director in Muskego-Norway School District southwest of Milwaukee, Wis.

That is the motivation behind her commitment to donate blood as often as she can to this day. “When you donate, you know you are impacting someone’s life,” she says. As an O-negative donor—which is the universal blood type, used in emergency situations—Marisch understands the amazing impact just one blood donation can make.

During January—National Blood Donor Month—blood centers across the country are making a special appeal for blood and platelet donations. Winter months are one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs. Inclement weather often results in cancelled blood drives, and seasonal illnesses like the flu may cause some donors to become temporarily unable to donate.

Sue Johnson, MSTM, MT(ASCP)SBB, director of Clinical Education for BloodCenter of Wisconsin, part of Versiti, and a member of the ASCP Board of Certification Board of Governors, emphasizes the critical need for blood donations. “We all have friends and family who have needed a transfusion. It’s lifesaving,” she says.

BloodCenter of Wisconsin is the exclusive provider of blood products to 56 hospitals in Wisconsin, including every hospital in southeast Wisconsin. The center must see some 800 blood donors each day across its Wisconsin communities in order to meet the need of its hospital partners. Once blood is donated, medical laboratory scientists, technologists and technicians, specialists in blood banking and board-certified transfusion medicine physicians work to provide the safest blood products possible to patients.  

“It is our commitment to ensure we provide what is needed on a daily basis, but we can’t fulfill that mission without the generosity of blood donors,” says Fay Spano, spokesperson for BloodCenter of Wisconsin. “They are true heroes, and I know patients like Dawn Marisch would agree.”

Dawn Marisch

To learn more about the importance of blood donation, visit or the American Red Cross website at