August 12, 2005

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Encouraging donations of lifesaving blood

At a recent Mass at Christ the King Church in Indianapolis, Jeanette Wilson presented a “Ministry Moment” as chairwoman of the annual parish blood drive. Although I began giving blood before I was married and continued long thereafter, a medical problem prevents me from doing so now. However, I strongly encourage others to donate the gift of life.

Of the 42 years Jeanette has been in our parish, she has spent 34 of them as a medical technologist with the Indiana Blood Center, which serves 42 central Indiana hospitals. Their needs require a minimum of 500 blood donors every day; so it behooves us to seriously consider helping. What if we or one of our family members or friends could not get blood when life is jeopardized?

Jeanette explained how her own daughter, the late Catherine Mary Wilson Schaust, benefited: “You all kept her going with your prayers—and with many units of blood. One person in our parish was a special match for her.”

After a 12-year illness, Cathie (also a medical technician) died one year ago this month. The blood drive was held in her honor. Prior to Cathie’s illness, Jeanette (a longtime blood donor herself) remembers once seeing her daughter rushing from her Wishard Hospital job in order to give blood because someone needed her type.

On the day of Cathie’s funeral, Jeanette stopped at the blood center to leave flowers at the front desk. She found Cathie’s brother, Bob, in a donor chair! “I can do this today, Mom!” he told her. Jeanette’s grandson, Andy, even donated on the morning of his college graduation. Yes, her children and grandchildren are donors, as was her late husband. This is a family tradition.

Jeanette recalls her father giving blood arm-to-arm to a young bride in jeopardy—and her parents riding bicycles a great distance from their home to the Bloomington American Legion Hall to donate blood when the Red Cross came to town during World War II—and she recalls her brother, Gene, a Marine, giving a two-unit transfusion to their pastor when no other donors were ­available.

Anyone aged 17 to 100, weighing at least 100 pounds and in reasonably good health can also donate blood by contacting the Indiana Blood Center or Red Cross and by sponsoring blood drives in their parishes.

As an extraordinary minister of Communion, Jeanette Wilson mostly serves wine at Mass. “Can you imagine the emotion I feel, after my many years of blood banking,” she asks—“ to stand there and humbly say ‘the Blood of Christ’—to offer each one not physical life but spiritual life?”

Appropriately, the parish blood drive occurred after Sunday celebrations of the Eucharist.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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