It’s not just a season, it’s a legacy of giving passed on that continues to save lives
From Michigan Blood
Blood—it connects us all. But for the Kieda family, it’s not only a saving grace but a legacy passed down between generations.
Lorraine and Aloysius “Al” Kieda, of Grand Rapids, were in the midst of welcoming their youngest child into the world when they received devastating news: Lorraine needed a blood transfusion, but they didn’t have the means to pay for it.
That’s when an anonymous donor stepped in. That person’s blood saved Lorraine’s life, ensuring all four of the couple’s children would grow up with their mom.
That was 1959. Al and Lorraine would go on to serve their community, whether it was helping their local church, or volunteering at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, for the next 60 years.
However, it was a different kind of service that would create a lasting memory: Al began donating blood to Michigan Blood in Grand Rapids after giving blood while serving in the Korean War. He and Lorraine became regular donors, often giving side by side. Their example motivated their four children to share this passion for helping others.
Their oldest son, Alan, and his wife, Alyson, live here in Cedar Springs. Alan also is one to help others, through church and other activities.
“We encouraged our children to give back,” said Lorraine. “A lot of families today don’t have something like this to help unite them.”
Before her husband Al passed away in 2013, he passed along something so much bigger: 23 gallons of blood. Lorraine was up to 14 gallons before she was deferred for medical reasons.
Now, the couple’s second of four children, Dan, carries on Al’s legacy—donating in honor of his dad every chance he gets.
“My father always urged every one of us children to give and give generously, in hopes that our kindness would inspire others to give blood,” said Dan.
Dan, who lives in Kalamazoo, said he wears his father’s army hat, ring, and an olivewood cross pendant—something he made for Al—whenever he donates. It reminds him that his father not only lives on in his memory, but in the gifts of life he gave to so many.
Recently, Dan received his 3-gallon pin… and he doesn’t plan to stop there.
“Blood is one of the most precious things that anyone can give to another person,” he said. “It’s the gift of life.”
Al’s extraordinary generosity may have planted the seeds of service within Dan’s veins, but it’s the family’s gifts—their incredible dedication to helping others—that’s continuing to connect us all.
Michigan Blood is the sole provider of blood and blood products for more than 60 hospitals in Michigan. Any healthy person 17 or older (or 16 with parental consent) who weighs at least 112 pounds may be eligible to donate. Blood donors should bring photo ID. Michigan Blood is currently in urgent need of O-Negative blood donations. The next blood drive in Cedar Springs is on December 20 at Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, Gym, 140 S Main St., Cedar Springs, 12:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Visit Michiganblood.org to find other dates or locations.