Blood drive set to help Windsor man with COVID-19 complications, blood bank

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Nate Washam poses for a family portrait with his wife, Sarah, and children, Jayden and Austin. A longtime family friend has organized a community blood drive in Nate's honor. He is critically ill and has been hospitalized since January.

Friends of a Windsor father and real estate agent are organizing a blood drive Saturday to help the man, who has been hospitalized since January. 

Nate Washam, 42, was originally diagnosed with COVID-19 in early January. Two weeks later his oxygen levels plummeted and he was rushed to Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland. 

The father of two is now battling hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, also known as HLH, a rare condition that affects the immune system and was triggered by COVID-19.

Washam has needed nearly a dozen blood transfusions so far, blood that has been donated to and supplied by the UCHealth Garth Englund Blood Centers. 

Those blood donations inspired the Washams’ longtime friend Kristen Powell to organize a blood drive in Washam’s honor to raise awareness of the vital role blood donations play. 

“Giving blood is a productive thing that someone can do to help not just Nate but everyone else in the hospital,” Sarah Washam said.  

Appointments are required because of COVID-19 restrictions, and donations of all blood types are needed, especially  A and O blood types and donations of platelets of all types.  

Platelets help patients with chronic diseases like cancer, blood disorders and transplants, and those who undergo major surgeries or suffer major injuries. Platelet donations take anywhere from 90 to 120 minutes.   

Those who have recently received a COVID-19 vaccine are eligible to donate 15 days after their vaccine was administered.  

If the drive is postponed due to weather, the Garth Englund Blood Center staff will call every donor who is signed up to reschedule. 

Want to help?

The Nate Washam Community Blood Drive is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the UCHealth Garth Englund Blood Center, 1025 Pennock Place, Suite 104, in Fort Collins. Donors need to sign up for appointments in advance at bit.ly/NateWashamBloodDrive

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, no walk-ins are allowed. 

However, if slots fill up, those who would still like to donate blood in  Washam’s name can call 970-680-8053 to schedule a donation in the next three weeks. 

Pat Ferrier is a senior reporter covering business, health care and growth issues in Northern Colorado. Contact her at patferrier@coloradoan.com. Please support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a subscription today.