Janet Koball: First-Time Donor Uses Tragedy to Help Others

Janet Koball

Janet Koball, Quality Assurance Specialist at Mayo Clinic, completed her goal of donating blood for the first time and is taking her accomplishment to heart when it comes to fulfilling other goals she has set for her life.

Koball has always had “donate blood” on her to-do list because she knows how important it is to help others. “It’s been on the back burner, and then one day, the mobile blood drive advertised that it was coming to my work location,” says Koball. She reached out to the Blood Donor Center to help answer her questions and ensure that she was okay to donate. The rest is history.

Many of us set New Year’s resolutions, but Janet Koball has always felt that resolutions go unaccomplished and sometimes leave people with a feeling of failure. She set a goal to do whatever she could to help those around her achieve their personal resolutions—and blood donation was the first step.

Turning Tragedy into Opportunity
Koball, unfortunately, became a widow at a very young age and was amazed by the outpouring of support that friends and family bestowed upon her. The feeling of support that she felt from everyone around her instilled a feeling in her to help others and repay that support in any way possible.

“I have a rare blood type and knew that I needed to use my unique situation to help those who may need my help,” says Koball. “When I heard that the mobile blood drive was coming right to my work area, I felt like it sealed the deal for me. I knew I needed to do my part and donate.”

She went in thinking her blood pressure would be too high and she would not be able to donate, but her preconceived notions proved wrong when the technician giving her a mini-physical said she was good to go. The amazing cookies were a perfect ending to her blood donation that day.

“Meeting my goal of donating blood set fire for me to create new goals,” Koball said. “I have set two new goals this year: 1. Find other ways to help those in need, and 2. Do more for myself—because if I am happy and healthy, I can more easily help those around me.”

Koball is a great example of someone who has turned a tragedy into an opportunity to help others. She admits that helping friends, family, and strangers is a way to lift up her spirit as well.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass . . . . It’s about learning to dance in the rain” is a quote from novelist Vivian Greene that Koball references often. She is the proud mother to four children, six grandchildren, and two more grandchildren on the way. “I want the blood I donate to be available for my family—or total strangers—if they are in a situation where they need it. If I can help other families that may be experiencing a traumatic situation in life, I am happy to do so,” she says.

“Each morning when I get out of bed, I focus on what I have, not on what I don’t have,” Koball says. “I have the ability to help in many ways—one of which is donating blood.”

For more information about donating blood in Olmsted County in Rochester, Minnesota, call (507) 284-4475 or email donateblood@mayo.edu. For more information about the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center, visit www.mayoclinic.org/donateblood.

By April Josselyn

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Kelley Schreiber

Kelley Schreiber is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She is the principle editor and writer of Insights and leads social media and direct marketing strategy. Kelley has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2013. Outside of work, you can find Kelley running, traveling, playing with her new kitten, and exploring new foods.