Olathe & Southwest Joco

Indian Creek Library blood drives reveal generosity of Olathe community

Children's librarian Allison Antrim gives blood at the Indian Creek Library during a previous blood drive.
Children's librarian Allison Antrim gives blood at the Indian Creek Library during a previous blood drive. Courtesy photo

Some might say that the library is the lifeblood of a community. In the case of Indian Creek Library in Olathe, it’s literally the truth.

On July 8, the library will celebrate its 1,000th unit of blood donated through its frequent drives with the American Red Cross.

Kathy Swartley, a customer services specialist for the library, has served as the coordinator for the library’s blood drives since 2010. When she started, the library held three or four drives a year. Now, they’re up to every month.

“I went to a monthly blood drive just because we had such good turnouts here,” she said.

On average over the last 10 months, the library has gotten 40 units at each drive. Initially, they tried to alternate between the downtown branch and Indian Creek each time, but the downtown library doesn’t have much space. Sometimes they’ll do a drive with a bloodmobile in the parking lot.

There won’t be drives in September or October this year, because the library is moving out of the temporary space it’s been in since March 2016, when flooding from a water-main break damaged their previous location. Aug. 12 will be the last drive at Indian Creek before the move.

The drives will resume in November once the staff has had a chance to settle into their new space. With the new, larger space, they’ll be able to accommodate more donors at drives.

“One of the nice things about the library is we have so many walk-ins, people on the spur of the moment who decide to give,” Swartley said.

The biggest drive she ever hosted, with 59 people signed up to donate, netted 46 units. Because someone can get deferred on the day for having low iron or not meeting one of the other criteria, there are almost always more appointments than units collected.

Swartley said they’re putting together a prize basket with Red Cross and library swag for their 100th donor. She pin down exactly where the donations stand after the June blood drive but acknowledged that they’re within five units of their target.

She also hopes to have some refreshments at the July 8 drive, not just for donors but for anyone who wants to celebrate.

Swartley wants to encourage anyone who’s able to sign up to give blood. She began donating in high school, when she would accompany her dad as he made his donation.

“It’s a really easy way to, give back. It doesn’t take any kind of financial obligation to donate blood, other than the time you spend donating,” she said. “… Each blood donation can save the lives of three people because of the different blood products they’re able to use.”

According to the Red Cross, someone injured in a car accident might need transfusions of as many as 100 units of blood.

“Blood’s one of those things – it can’t be manufactured. The only way to get the blood is for people to be generous enough to do it,” Swartley said. “We have a very generous community. I have people I see every time they’re eligible.”

Donors must wait 56 days between donations.

Judith Hegner of Overland Park has been to donate four times in the last year.

“It’s a way to help people in need,” she said. “My husband needed blood when he was sick, and I saw how helpful it is. I also saw how quickly someone can go from being a healthy person to someone who needs blood.”

She finds the location convenient.

“If it turns out there’s a wait time, you can just pull something off the shelf to read,” Hegner said.

The next blood drive will be July 8, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Indian Creek Library, 13511 South Mur-Len Road.