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Donors line up to save lives at Luft Memorial Blood Drive

  • The Logan Luft Memorial Blood Drive was held Wednesday afternoon at Charles City Middle School. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • The Logan Luft Memorial Blood Drive was held Wednesday afternoon at Charles City Middle School. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • The Logan Luft Memorial Blood Drive was held Wednesday afternoon at Charles City Middle School. (Press photo James Grob.)

By James Grob,

The memory of Logan Luft is now associated with wellness and charity, and that was apparent Wednesday at the Logan Luft Memorial Blood Drive at Charles City Middle School.

Kathie Gayther, territory representative for Life ServeServe Blood Center, said that a typical blood drive might bring in somewhere between 10 and 80 units of blood. More than 100 units were expected Wednesday.

“It’s a great goal to have, and I think they’re going to accomplish that today, Gayther said. “I think it just speaks volumes to what the family has accomplished with Logan’s Law and organ donation.”

The drive was headed up by Logan’s mother, brother and sister — Wendy Luft and Landon and Lilly Luft.

Wendy said that LifeServe reached out to the family to see if they would be interested, and spent some time teaching them about blood donation.

“We were bought in at the the first meeting,” Wendy said. “I didn’t realize how important it really is.”

Wendy said LifeServe is the sole provider of blood and plasma in the local area, and that the shelf life of a blood donation is just 26 days.

“For us, it’s a big deal because if we can help that, then that’s good,” she said. “It’s important people continue to do this. Even though Charles City has a big blood drive every spring at the school, that’s a long time to wait.”

Logan’s Law, passed last spring and implemented in Iowa earlier this month, lets Iowans have a symbol put on their hunting and fishing licenses indicating they wish to be an organ donor. It is named in honor of Logan, who was 15 years old when he died due to injuries after an ATV accident in of July 2017.

Logan was an avid outdoorsman, and had expressed interest in organ donation while he was alive. Through organ donation, he has gifted five organs and 21 tissue donations to recipients in nine states. The Luft family actively lobbied for the law’s passage, and have become advocates for organ donation.

Gayther said there is a direct connection between blood donation and organ donation.

“The important thing that blends us all together is the ability to provide blood products for organ recipients,” she said. “Over the course of their lifetime they’re going to continue to need blood transfusions and platelets and plasma — it’s important that we’re able to bond together and have that joint effort to save lives in our area.”

Wendy said that a typical blood drive brings in about 60 donors, but the number had surpassed 100 before 1 p.m. on Wednesday and the drive was scheduled to end at 6 p.m.

Each donor received a T-shirt with “Luft Tuff” on the back, checkered with the names of sponsors who had contributed to the drive.

“We wanted to thank everyone with the T-shirt, because it talks about how love is greater than fear,” Wendy said. “It’s might be kind of scary to give blood, but we have a greater purpose, which is love.”

Lilly and Landon took a big role in the planning for the blood drive, according to Wendy. She said they worked with the school to get things lined up, coordinated with LifeServe, and did all the advertising and marketing.

“It’s important to me as a mom to know that they find value in being a good servant, and that they want to honor their brother,” Wendy said. “That means a lot to me.”

Charles City sophomore Justin Tuttle turned 16 years old on Wednesday, which meant he was eligible to donate blood for the first time.

“I figured out yesterday they were doing this today, and I realized that today was my birthday so I could give blood and save lives,” said Tuttle, who encourages other young people to give blood.

A large group of students escorted the donors, minded the canteen, gave away the T-shirts, ran the cornhole game that donors could play while they waited their turns and performed many other tasks for the blood drive.

“The great thing about these students behind me — none of them are old enough to give, but they wanted to help in some way,” Wendy said. “Just because you can’t donate blood doesn’t mean you can’t be helpful.”