Sister Barbara's Gift Keeps on Giving

*Sister Barbara Weber was featured with other inspiring "Women of Generosity" in the Dec. 2016 issue of "Inspired Woman," magazine. We are truly grateful for this well-deserved recognition of Sister Barbara's commitment to serving others! Reprinted with permission from Marci Narum, writer and photographer.

Sister Barbara Weber is no fan of needles. So it might surprise you to know where she spends nearly three hours every Wednesday. Sister Barb has a standing appointment at United Blood Services to donate platelets. “It’s never a burden for her,” says Linda Valentine, Donor Relations Specialist. “The fact that she’s saving lives is a pleasure for her. And having her here is a pleasure for us.”

Sister Barb has been part of the community for 55 years. So has her heart. She began donating blood in 1968. During the 80s she switched to donating platelets, a process that takes about five times longer than donating whole blood. “It’s my civic donation. I don’t do anything else out in the community,” Sister Barb explains. “I can do this and it helps others right away.” Platelets are tiny blood cells that help the body’s blood form clots. They have a shelf life of only seven days, so donations such as Sister Barb’s are taken to local and state hospitals or flown immediately to other hospitals in United Blood Service’s four-state region, including South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. Sister Barb says donating platelets is a sacrifice she believes can result in a greater benefit. “More people can use the platelets. Surgery patients and cancer patients are the biggest recipients,” she says.

Sister Barb was a social worker at CHI St. Alexius in Bismarck for 39 years and began serving as a chaplain there in 2005, so she often sees patients who need what she has donated. “When I’m at the hospital I wonder if the blood is mine.”

At United Blood Services, the staff never has to wonder if they will see Sister Barb. “She’s here every week,” says Linda. “We make calls every day asking people to come in once every eight weeks. This woman is here every week without ever having to call her.”

And her weekly donations have added up—to a number which no one else at the Bismarck donation center can match or even come close to. “She has donated more than 90 gallons,” says Linda. “Do you know how many donation days and times it takes to do 90 gallons?” The answer is 730 visits. And counting. “If that isn’t dedication I don’t know what is,” says Linda. And it’s a lot of needle sticks for someone who is not a fan of them. Sister Barb smiles, “As long as I don’t have to look at the needle I’m okay.”


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