Blood drive will honor Windsor father with rare medical condition triggered by COVID-19

Nate Washam Community Blood Drive slated for Saturday at UCHealth Garth Englund Blood Center.
March 16, 2021

UPDATE 3/16/2021: Due to the winter storm, the blood drive was postponed. The event has been rescheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 2 at UCHealth Garth Englund Blood Center, 1025 Pennock Place, Suite 104, in Fort Collins. And a new sign-up link can be found here.

Total strangers have been helping a 42-year-old Windsor father and businessman fight a rare medical condition triggered by COVID-19.

The Washam family poses for a family portrait. Friends and family are hosting a blood drive for Nate, a COVID-19 patient who is fighting a rare medical condition.
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 honor of Nate, a patient who was hospitalized with COVID-19 and is now fighting a rare medical condition. Photo courtesy of Sarah Washam.

They did it by simply giving blood.

Now his family and friends are asking others in the community to help him and other hospitalized patients by donating blood at the Nate Washam Community Blood Drive on Saturday or by scheduling an appointment to give blood or platelets in the next three weeks in his honor.

Nate first learned he had COVID-19 in early January. Less than two weeks later, his oxygen levels were so low he had to be rushed by ambulance to UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, where he’s been cared for by critical care team for more than six weeks.

The father of two teens is now battling hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, also known as HLH, a rare condition that affects the immune system.

His wife, Sarah Washam, said he has needed nearly a dozen blood transfusions during his hospitalization so far. That blood has come from people who took the time to donate through UCHealth Garth Englund Blood Centers.

The generosity of these donors has inspired Kristen Powell, a longtime friend of the Washams, to organize a blood drive in honor of Nate to raise awareness of the vital role that blood donations play and to encourage donors of all types to schedule an appointment to donate blood to help Washam and other patients in need.

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

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, no walk-ins can be accommodated. However, if slots fill up, those who would still like to donate blood in honor of Washam can call 970.680.8053 to schedule a donation in the next three weeks.

Donations of all blood types are needed and important, however, the center especially needs donors with A and O blood types and donations of platelets of all types.

To donate, a person must be at least 18 years old (or 17 with a parent’s permission) and show a photo identification. New donors must weigh at least 120 pounds and be in good health. Prior donors must weigh at least 110 pounds. Donors also should eat a good meal before their appointment and drink plenty of water the day before and day of the drive. A typical whole blood donation takes 30-40 minutes. More information about eligibility requirements, the donation process and donation center hours is posted at http://bit.ly/uchealthblood.

The blood centers are always in high need of new platelet donors, which help patients with chronic diseases like cancer, patients with blood disorders and transplants, and those who undergo major surgeries or sustain major injuries. Platelet donations take anywhere from 90-120 minutes.

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

All blood donated through UCHealth Garth Englund Blood Donation Centers stays local. It helps patients at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Greeley Emergency and Surgery Center, Longs Peak Hospital in Longmont and Estes Park Health.

About the author

Kelly Tracer is a media relations specialist at UCHealth, based in northern Colorado. For nearly 20 years, she worked as a newspaper reporter, editor and designer before diving into the world of health care communications.

She believes there is an amazing story inside everyone and considers it an honor to get to meet and work with so many extraordinary people – patients, families, providers, volunteers and staff – every day. She is also fascinated by health care innovation and programs that empower and inspire people and families to live healthier lives.

A native of Nebraska, Kelly received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. She and her husband have two children and enjoy paddle boarding all summer and skiing all winter.

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