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RANGELY I The sixth annual Makayla Jane Kottenstette Memorial Blood Drive, in conjunction with Rangely High School’s annual event, is scheduled for Wednesday at the school from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The memorial drive usually happens on or near the birthday of its namesake, Makayla Jane, the infant daughter of Rangely residents Ian and Kathy Kottenstette. Makayla, who was born March 23, 2010, passed away from complications of volvulus, a twisting of the intestines, four days after her birth.
Her legacy continues to live through the annual blood drive. Originally slated this year for March 29, the drive was cancelled last month when the Saint Mary’s Blood Mobile, along with several other vehicles, became immobilized on an icy Douglas Pass en route to Rangely.
The need for the blood that wasn’t collected that day and the necessity of rescheduling the drive, became apparent when Saint Mary’s health professionals later spoke with Kathy Kottenstette. A substantial blood shortage in March meant the hospital was relying on the blood gathered at the Rangely drive. As a result of the Blood Mobile’s getting turned back, Saint Mary’s had to put out a call to Grand Junction residents to donate immediately.
“The support we receive from everyone is such a benefit to our local and regional communities,” Kottenstette wrote to fellow employees at Colorado Northwestern Community College, where the initial drive was to be held.
“According to the Saint Mary’s Regional Blood Center, Rangely is one of the best donation areas they travel to. Given our size, they are always amazed with the response they receive from us. So many people show up to this memorial drive that they have come to count on the blood donated.”
Making another drive happen soon was a priority for the Kottenstettes and the donation center. Makayla’s drive typically gathers between 45 and 50 pints of blood, each of which can potentially save three lives.
When Saint Mary’s asked whether Rangely High School would combine its annual event with the memorial drive, organizers immediately said yes.
As she has for the last six years, Kottenstette continues to focus not only on remembrance of her daughter but on the hope for new life that blood donation offers.
While approximately one out of every seven people entering a hospital needs blood, hence the 40,000 pints of blood used each day in the U.S., fewer than four out of every 10 people are eligible to give. And fewer than one in 10 actually do it, says blood collection and testing agency BloodSource.
“The number of folks who show up to support the cause is truly amazing,” Kottenstette said. “It’s wonderful that folks are so selfless. Rangely is one of the best communities to support one another.”
The drive’s lasting connection for both her and Ian, Kottenstette added, is both community-driven and personal.
“The drive is near and dear to us because it feels like the only positive spin we can do this time of year,” Kathy Kottenstette said. “It’s so easy to get down, and knowing how many people are being helped is a nice pick-me-up. We still miss her dearly and always will. It’s our little way of paying tribute to her, too.”
The Kottenstettes have another “pick-me-up” to look forward to. They will welcome a baby girl into their family within the next two weeks.
Donors to the Wednesday blood drive can reserve a time by calling 970-261-4626 or come during open hours to give blood.
Those 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.
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; or It is OK to donate if you’ve gone to a resort area in Mexico and remained in the resort area.