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Protecting land and lives:
BLM hosts blood drives throughout Wyoming

By Kristen Lenhardt

BLM employee Michael Lucero gets prepped for a blood donation.

Michael Lucero, BLM Wyoming EEO Manager, donates blood at one of the State Office’s blood drives.
Photo by Andrea Pettay

BLM employee Mark Gorges donates blood.

Mark Gorges, BLM Wyoming Acting Multiple-Resource Chief, donates blood at one of the State Office’s blood drives. Photo by Andrea Pettay

After a life-threatening bout with bleeding stomach ulcers in 2001, former BLM Assistant Field Manager in Pinedale, Wyo., Kathy Gunderman, was saved by blood transfusions. Gunderman’s condition was so bad she was told that she was a few days away from death without the transfusions.

“I could feel my life slipping away,” says Gunderman. “Once you experience that feeling, knowing that donated blood saved my life is so much more meaningful.”

Gunderman had been a blood donor since 1976, but since this incident, she has taken further steps to save others.

When Gunderman moved to Pinedale, a regularly scheduled blood drive was not available. For the past several years, the BLM and United Blood Services of Rock Springs, Wyo. have hosted biannual blood drives.

Nearly 50 percent of the Pinedale Field Office, or 20-25 employees, donate blood each drive. According to United Blood Services, this percentage is well above average considering only five percent of the nation’s population donates blood annually.

The Wyoming State Office is also committed to reaching the nation through blood donations. Every two months, the state office hosts a drive for BLM employees.

Hosting blood drives provides BLM Wyoming with an opportunity to go beyond the traditional service to the public by managing public lands.

Gunderman was recently appointed to the Tuscarora Field Manager position in Elko, Nev. Though no longer in Pinedale, her former coworkers have continued providing a place for local residents to give blood. When asked, Gunderman said she would make the same effort to set up regularly scheduled blood drives in her new location.

Oftentimes, members of the public hesitate to donate due to fear. The BLM encourages possible donors to take the first step to give life to someone. Each person has the capability of donating four times a year, potentially saving up to 12 people.

“Do it for that everyday person that you’ll never know but will save their life. This should be your motivation,” claims Gunderman.

Though BLM continues to join the effort to save lives through its annual blood drives, the United Blood Services only meets about 47 percent of the patients who need donated blood.
If interested in starting a blood drive in your area, more information can be found at the United Blood Services website: http://www.unitedbloodservices.org.

Last updated: 08-20-2008