Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Rauland encourages public to give blood

by Chris Schultz

July 21, 2011

Elkhorn — Bob Rauland plans to be in the cafeteria at the Elkhorn Area Middle School , 627 E. Court St., sometime between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Aug. 6, one sleeve conspicuously rolled up.

Twice a year for a little over 50 years, Rauland has hiked up a sleeve to give a unit of blood, usually for BloodCenter of Wisconsin, which keeps blood in the communities where it’s collected.

Most beneficiaries of Rauland’s vascular largesse have been strangers. In this case, the blood collection is in honor of Rod Paulsen, a former Elkhorn middle school teacher who is battling cancer.

Cancer patients require regular transfusions of platelets to stay healthy.

Giving blood may not seem like a big deal, but according to statistics from the Mayo Clinic, only about 5 percent of those eligible to give blood actually donate.

Also according to the Mayo Clinic, about 25 percent of all of us will need a blood transfusion some time in our lives.

Rauland of Walworth has long been a part of that elite 5 percent of those who donate blood. And he urges others to join him in giving.

While the numbers of donors remains small, fortunately, a little blood can go a long way.

He said his habit of biannual giving started as a simple urge to help others.

“It’s pure and simple. If you’re someone who has a medical emergency and need blood, I want to make sure you or your family members have the blood they need.” said Rauland, who has been involved in community activities for decades.

“You can save a life at little risk to yourself,” Rauland, 75, said in an interview at this real estate office in Walworth.

“You can’t give blood until you’re 16. But after that, there’s no age limit,” Rauland said.

He said he’s been giving since 1958, but there have been a couple of years when he couldn’t donate. And usually the donations have been local, but not always.

After his late wife had emergency surgery in Florida, he went to her hospital room and saw her hooked up to two units of blood.

Rauland said he gave those two units back with donations in Florida.

According to Yahoo Answers, a unit of blood is about 15.22 fluid ounces, which is just short of one pint, or 16 fluid ounces. The human body contains from 10 to 12 units.

So Rauland has given 10 times his volume in blood over the past 50 years.

“If what I do saves one life, 55 years of doing it is worth it,” he said.

Every donation can save three lives. And now, with new methods to separate blood products, one donation can save the lives of 16 newborns, Rauland said.

“There’s always a need somewhere for some type of blood,” Rauland said.

At 75 years old, Rauland won’t “retire” from giving blood, but he said he plans to cut back.