Rangely blood drive to commemorate infant’s life

RANGELY I On March 23, 2010, Kathy and Ian Kottenstette met their infant daughter, Makayla Jane. She weighed 4 pounds, 11 ounces, and she was perfect.
“She was a very mellow little girl,” Kathy Kottenstette recalled. “The few times she would get fussy, Ian or I would say something, and it would calm her down. One time, when I got to hold her in the NICU (newborn intensive care unit), I watched her heart rate lower as I held her on my chest.”
Within a day of Makayla’s birth, Kathy and Ian knew their newborn daughter was ill. What they didn’t know was that Makayla had volvulus, a twisting of the intestine that can happen at any life stage and for a variety of reasons. In Makayla’s case, the twisting was cutting off the blood supply to Makayla’s small intestine, effectively killing the organ’s tissue.
For the next three days, as Makayla was put on observation at Saint Mary’s Hospital and then, on March 26, flight-for-lifed to Denver’s Children’s Hospital, Kathy, Ian, family and friends waited and prayed for answers that failed to come in time. On March 27, 2010, Makayla passed away from complications resulting from the volvulus.
In the aftermath of shock and grief, Ian and Kathy tried to cope with how little time they’d had with their daughter. They would never teach Makayla her first words, know her passions or personality or the color of her eyes. The few precious days with her simply hadn’t been enough.
Which is why, each year, around the anniversary of Makayla’s birth and brief life, the Kottenstettes remember their daughter’s life by helping others live theirs. In 2011, they established the Makayla Jane Kottenstette memorial blood drive. That first year, more than 100 people donated blood in her name — not just friends and family — but strangers from Glenwood Springs, Denver and Colorado Springs who had learned Makayla’s story and knew the importance of giving blood for the estimated five million people who need transfusions each year.
To the Kottenstettes, the annual event is a fitting way to remember Makayla, who was herself the recipient of a blood transfusion.
“Because someone else was selfless enough to donate their blood, it gave us a little more hope for and time with our child,” Kathy Kottenstette said.
This Wednesday, March 26, the Kottenstettes will host the fourth annual Makayla Jane Kottenstette memorial blood drive from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the St. Mary’s Blood Mobile in Colorado Northwestern Community College’s Weiss Center parking lot. Donors can reserve a time by calling 970-261-4626 or come during open hours to give blood.
People who wish to donate in Makayla’s name but who live outside of Rangely can contact the Saint Mary’s Regional Blood Bank in Grand Junction at 970-298-2555 or, on the Front Range, request a donation to Makayla’s account at any Bonfils Blood Center.
This time of year is always difficult for the Kottenstettes and those who knew Makayla for four brief days. But stories of friends donating for the first time, giving blood regularly and talking with others about the importance of blood donation have helped ease the Kottenstettes’ pain.
“If this can be a trigger for people to help each other, great,” Kathy Kottenstette said. “We try to celebrate life this way. If it helps someone else live a little longer or restore life and health, it’s worth it.”
Guidelines for donor participation include the following:
Donors must be at least 18 years old, or be 16 or older with a parent’s permission.
Donors must weigh at least 120 pounds and be in good health.
It is not OK to donate if you have given blood in the past eight weeks.
It is not OK to donate if you’ve received a tattoo or unusual piercing within one year from the date of donation.
It is not OK to donate if you have a cold or flu.
It is OK to donate if you are on medication and have asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes or thyroid issues as long as they are under control.
It is OK to donate if you’ve gone to a resort area in Mexico and remained in the resort area.

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