The first indication Loren Gewerth had cancer was when he went to the Red Cross Bloodmobile to donate blood.
It was 1982, and Gewerth, then 24, was working at the Ford garage.
“I was going to give blood, but was rejected because of low iron. For a 24 year old to have low hemoglobin was very unusual,” he said last week.
Further investigation showed Gewerth had Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer that can spread through the body via the blood stream.
“It was through my abdomen,” Gewerth said. “They had to remove one kidney, and four and a half pounds of cancer.”
During the surgery, Gewerth needed eight units of blood, and additional units of blood plasma.
Three years later, Gewerth was back in surgery to repair an after effect of the cancer — a perforated bowel, which required more blood.
Although he has been cancer-free for nearly 30 years, Gewerth is on the “permanently deferred” list for donating blood.
“Although I would if I could,” he added. “I keep checking back with the Red Cross since they change the rules every year.
Gewerth will get his next chance to try donating this week, when the Red Cross Bloodmobile comes to the Redwood Falls National Guard Armory.
Loren’s wife, Jody, has tried to make up the difference for him — she’s donated over nine gallons of blood to date.
“I’ve read only a small percentage of the eligible population gives blood, but if you go to the hospital and need it, there will be a 100 percent chance it will be there for you,” said Jody, who has been donating regularly since she was 17.
“We’ve had lots of people in both our families who have needed blood. We’re kind of big into the whole blood thing, and wish more people would donate.”
. . . . .
The Red Cross Bloodmobile will be collecting donations at the Redwood Falls National Guard Armory next week — with a bit of a difference.
Normally the Bloodmobile visits Redwood Falls on Mondays and Tuesdays.
However, because of a scheduling conflict with another town, the Red Cross will be in town this week on Tues., April 17 and Wed. April 18 instead from 1-7 p.m. both days.
Walk-ins are welcome, although Redwood Falls organizer Laura Kohler recommends that walk-ins who don’t register in advance avoid the first hour on Monday, or between 4:30-5:30 p.m. each day, since those tend to be the busiest times.
All donors need either a drivers license with a photo ID, or their donor card, even if they are already registered in the system.
The National Guard Armory is located at 530 Highway 101, Redwood Falls.
Page 2 of 2 - For more information, call Laura Kohler at 507-640-0209.