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Culver rancher honored for blood platelet donations


(Updated with Tuesday award)

A Culver rancher who was recognized by the Red Cross for his blood donation efforts Tuesday morning said he committed to give badly needed blood platelets after his wife passed away in January of 2017.

Kedo Olson said he wanted to do more after seeing how his wife needed the help of blood platelets during her cancer treatments.

Olson said that’s when he started to set aside the time to donate platelets, which can take a little longer then a normal blood donation. But he said it’s well worth the time.

“It’s something that I wanted to pay back to the community, because if somebody is in bad, dire straits, writing them a check for $10,000 isn’t going to do them any good when they need blood,” Olson said. “And so that’s what I do, and that’s what I try to do at least once a month. And I’m lucky that I have the right type of blood that is very universal.”

On Tuesday, the Red Cross honored Olson for his efforts by inducting him into the donation Hall of Fame, which recognizes people all over the country who have shown extraordinary commitment to giving blood.

Olson said this award means something particularly special to him.

“Most of the other awards that I’ve gotten for other various things are because of things that I’ve done directly,” he said. “Roping steers and competing better than someone at a rodeo or whatever. This has nothing to do with a stopwatch or style. It just has something to do with a choice that I made that just validates that I’m very proud of the choice that I made.”

And he said he hopes more people will give to the cause, because it’s something that’s always in high need across the country.

The process of donating plasma and platelets is a little more involved then the normal process of donating blood, and can take up to two hours for the process to be completed.

While he’s waiting for those two hours, Olson has the option to watch a movie or television, but he never does. Instead, he’ll just talk to the staff.

“I talk to him and he’ll tell me about his life, days doing rodeo stuff, volunteering with his daughter’s school, endless stories about his granddaughter,” Red Cross collections tech Sarah Ludwig said. “A very family-oriented man, and just doing this to help.”

Susan Kirkendol with the Red Cross in Bend said Monday that the shelf life of platelets is only about five days after it has been donated, so that’s why they’re constantly looking for donors.

And it’s especially important, as it’s used for those who are battling some very serious illnesses.

“Somewhere between five and seven out of every 10 platelet donations goes to somebody in cancer treatment, because they are the people who need it the most,” Kirkendol said. “As they are going through the treatments, their bone marrow is being impacted by the medications and the chemotherapy, and they quit producing platelets — and they start bleeding underneath their skin. If people come in and they donate platelets, then we are able to give them a product and they are able to finish their chemotherapy treatments.”

Kirkendol added that for the most part, the Bend donation center sees a good number of donations, and the Pacific Northwest does a good job of donating blood to keep up with demand.

She also said the Red Cross often sees a shortage in blood at the start of the winter months, which are right around the corner.

To learn more about donating blood, click here.

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