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Paula Bachmeier is a champion blood donor

Andrea Johnson/MDN Paula Bachmeier has been donating blood for 47 years and has been honored for being a frequent blood donor and organizer of blood drives.

Blood banks, including Vitalant in Minot, need more donors and champion blood donor Paula Bachmeier of Burlington is rising to the call just as she has for nearly five decades.

“(I’ve been donating) since I was 18 and I’m 65, so for 47 years,” said Bachmeier. “I try to go every eight weeks … I try, I can’t say that I make it all the time.”

She said her reasons for donating have evolved over the years from the desire to earn a bit of money to the personal.

“When I was in college, we got five bucks and that bought a tank of gas and a six pack of beer,” said Bachmeier. “And then my sister and I had a little race to see who would get our five gallon in the first. And then my son was diagnosed with leukemia and I saw how many blood products were needed, so I basically got on my sawhorse, or salt box and preached the value of donating blood. And I’ve given 158 times now. So I’m pushing my 20 gallons.

She said her son, Des Lacs-Burlington superintendent Christopher Bachmeier, is now doing very well.

Bachmeier has kept going back to donate blood even though she has sometimes been turned away from donating.

“I’ve been turned down lots of times for low iron,” said Bachmeier. “And I’ve been turned down because my vein, they can only get it out of one arm — you can see the scar tissue – so they have a hard time getting it going sometimes. So I’ve been turned down because they couldn’t get the needle to get it started.”

All the times she has gone to donate and been turned down because of low iron levels or difficulty in finding her vein are not included in the 158 times.

“If they got it started and it stopped, which has happened a couple of times, that counts, yeah, but they can’t use it,” she said.

Even if it is challenging, she keeps going because she’s very aware that people need her blood.

“I’m O negative so I’m the (universal) donor. I can give to everyone and save everyone’s life,” said Bachmeier. “My blood is in demand.”

Bachmeier said her organization, North Dakota Guaranty & Title in Minot, sponsors one blood drive and co-sponsors another blood drive with the Minot Board of Realtors, a drive that is scheduled for Aug. 17.

Bachmeier said said her employees are great about donating themselves or recruiting other people to donate blood if they are unable to donate because of health reasons. Out of her 30 some employees, about 20 regularly donate, she said.

Bachmeier is also good at countering all the excuses people might have for not donating.

“So I tell people when I hear the story, ‘Oh, I don’t like needles,’ I tell them, ‘Let’s go to a pediatric oncology unit and see how those little 2-year-olds like needles that are poked all day long. Get over yourself,’ “ said Bachmeier. “(Or if I hear) ‘Oh, I don’t feel good, ‘ … I said, ‘that’s fine, you’ll feel better tomorrow.’ (Or if they say) ‘ I’ll pass out, ‘ ‘I say, ‘That’s fine. You’ll wake up. You just need to do it because it’s the best thing you can do for someone.’ I’m real passionate about it.”

Bachmeier proudly displays plaques on her office wall declaring that she is a United Blood Services Century Club member and a recipient of the 10 Gallon Award.

Upcoming blood drives at Vitalant

“Walk in donors are always welcome but we are encouraging appointments. Please note that all donors must wear a mask or facial covering to donate. Everyone must have a photo ID with them to donate. All donors must be at least 16 years of age. Sixteen-year-old donors must have a minor consent form signed by parent. Those are available at Vitalant.org or at the blood drive.”

Tuesday, June 30

Anamoose Community Blood Drive

VFW Hall 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Wednesday, July 1

New Town Community Blood Drive

MHA Tero/Energy Building Noon to 6 p.m.

Thursday, July 2

Rugby Community Blood Drive

Calvary Evangelical Church 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Wednesday, July 8

Max Community Blood Drive

City Hall 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Thursday, July 9

Berthold Community Blood Drive

Ambulance Garage 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Friday, July 10

Zion Lutheran Church 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Monday, July 13

Bowbells Community Blood Drive

United Methodist Church Noon to 6 p.m.

Wednesday, July 15

Parshall Community Blood Drive

American Legion Hall 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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