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Family hosts blood drive in memory of father

Throughout his life, Ed Sturm of New Ulm was known for his witty one-liners and his unwavering passion to help others. The 68-year-old served in the U.S. Army, worked for New Ulm Manufacturing and Caterpillar, and later was as a truck driver.

His life ended following a long battle with cancer in 2020.

To honor his legacy of helping others, his wife and daughter are hosting an American Red Cross blood drive in his memory on August 5. Family and friends have rallied to show their support and have filled all of the donation appointments.

“We are thrilled with the outpouring of support,” said his daughter, Rachel Sturm. “Everyone thinks it’s a great way to remember him, because they knew his long journey and how much he struggled.

“Blood donation is an easy way for people to help and give more time to another family going through the same situation.”

Sturm was first diagnosed in November 2012 with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer that affects plasma cells — crowding out the normal plasma cells that help fight infection.

After a stem cell transplant in April 2013, Sturm’s cancer went into remission but returned in 2015.

In March of 2019, their worst fear came true when Sturm was diagnosed with another form of cancer: myelodysplastic syndrome, in which healthy blood cells die in the bone marrow or just after entering the bloodstream.

From March 2019 through March 2020, while trying to deal with the two different cancers, Sturm was in the emergency room multiple times getting blood transfusions because his hemoglobin dropped to dangerously low levels.

But there wasn’t always blood on the shelves when he needed it.

His wife, Jean Sturm, recalls writing in his Caring Bridge journal in March 2020 that Ed had to wait for blood when donations declined during the pandemic. He was moved to the University of Minnesota Medical Center to help ensure blood products would be more readily available.

“Cancer is a very physically & emotionally draining disease and having to worry about blood availability is just one more burden piled on,” said Jean.

In total, Sturm received 72 units of blood and 41 units of platelets. “These transfusions gave him the strength and endurance to withstand the chemotherapy and gave him more time with us,” said his daughter. “It was eye-opening to us that one person would need so much blood. I didn’t realize how important blood donation was until my dad got sick and needed it.”

Blood and platelets play a critical role in the treatment of cancer and other chronic diseases, as well as traumatic injuries. Patients fighting cancer need more blood than patients fighting any other disease, using nearly one-quarter of the nation’s blood supply. Healthy donors are needed now to ensure that patients have lifesaving blood products available for cancer treatment, emergencies and everyday medical treatments.

To inspire donors and to help pay it forward, Jean and Rachel will both be donating blood in honor of Ed at this drive where Jean will reach her 100th donation milestone! They hope to continue hosting blood drives in Ed’s memory annually.

Everyone can support families affected by cancer and help to prevent a blood shortage this summer so help ensure blood transfusions aren’t delayed. To book a time to give at an upcoming drive, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

There are multiple upcoming blood drives in the New Ulm area that still have open appointments, including:

•Olivia: Aug. 1 from noon-6 p.m. at St. Aloysius Catholic Church-Jubilee Center, 302 S 10th St.

•New Ulm: Aug. 31 from 1-7 p.m. at New Ulm Civic Center ice rink, 1212 N Franklin St.

•New Ulm: Sept. 1 from noon-6 p.m. at New Ulm Civic Center ice rink, 1212 N Franklin St.

•New Ulm: Sept. 2 from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., New Ulm Civic Center ice rink, 1212 N Franklin St.

How to donate blood

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor app.

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