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Our Nurses of the Week are Marian and Suzanne Phelps, a mother-daughter duo who are both registered nurses, who are working with students to organize blood drives in Porter County, near the Chicago metropolitan area. They were inspired by Jan Dick, Marian’s husband and Suzanne’s father, who estimates that he’s donated roughly 16 gallons of blood over the last four decades.

Dick explains how he came to be a regular blood donor: “I guess, what kicked the whole thing off, I had a neighbor. This was about 45 years ago, and (the neighbor’s) boss was in need of surgery. The guy worked for a small outfit and he asked me if I would go donate blood and I went. It didn’t take very long. If you don’t think about it, it was painless. Sure, you get stuck, but it wasn’t that bad. I thought it was the right thing to do.”

After becoming a donor, Dick began volunteering with his local Red Cross in Porter County, and eventually became the president. His activism inspired his wife and daughter to get involved and they now work as a family to build up blood donations for the Red Cross.

Suzanne Phelps is a health occupations instructor at Porter Area Career and Technical Center where she teaches the Health Science Education II class. She has been the Blood Drive Coordinator at the center for the last eight years, and she follows in the footsteps of her mother, who taught the class for over 20 years and organized the first blood drives at the school.

The students have four drives each year and Suzanne says the experience of organizing a blood drive helps the students understand the significance of blood donations to the medical field. Donors can give a pint of whole blood every eight weeks, up to six times a year. According to Patricia Cochran, account manager for the American Red Cross, only 40 percent of the population is eligible to donate blood.

She tells, “Of those who are eligible, only about 3 percent actually donate. A very small amount of people supports the blood supply. If everyone eligible would donate once a year, we would never be in shortage…It might be one hour of your time, but it is a lifetime to the patient in the hospital.”

To learn more about mother-daughter duo Marian and Suzanne Phelps who are working to build up blood donations for the Red Cross, visit here.

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