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  • Writer's pictureNEIA Red Cross

Sometimes, Miracles do Happen

By Ashley Benedict

Sometimes it can be hard to believe in miracles.

Last October, Richard Baethke (70) of Riceville, Iowa, suffered an abdominal aneurysm. Baethke was a healthy, hard-working farmer, husband, father, grandfather and friend. Without warning the pain began, and initially he thought that the pain was due to appendicitis or kidney stones.

After a thirty-minute drive to Mitchell County Hospital in Osage, Iowa, Baethke was immediately taken in and tested. His wife mentioned to the doctors that his father had passed away from an abdominal aneurysm, and the doctors immediately sent him for additional scans that confirmed that diagnosis.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, additional family members were not able to see Baethke in person, but the doctors gave them the opportunity to speak with him over the phone before his surgery. He was life-flighted to St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, and was under the care of one of the world’s top-rated doctors, Dr. Manju Kalra.

During the lengthy surgery that followed, Baethke received several units of blood, plasma, cryo-plasma and everything else the doctors could give him. Thanks to donors, Baethke was given a second chance at life.

“We are just so grateful and blessed to have more time with him,” his daughter, Michele, said. “It should’ve been his time, but it wasn’t. Even doctors call him a miracle.”

Sometimes, miracles do happen.

It is thanks to the tireless efforts of Dr. Kalra, the entire hospital staff and the countless transfusions that were made possible by blood and plasma donors throughout the country that Baethke is alive today,

This experience inspired Michele and seven other family members to donate blood and plasma whenever they can. Even her brother, who hates needles, was inspired to give. Family members donated at the Red Cross in January and April, and have plans to continue to donate in the future.

“I hope that our story can inspire others to donate as well,” Michele said.

All it takes is a quart of blood and a half-hour of your time -- and you could change the lives of not only those who need transfusions but their loved ones as well.

For more information on blood donation or to schedule an appointment, please visit

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