Feeling good about giving blood again

“Time-out” ends for dedicated blood donor

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer correspondent

January 27, 2020 – It feels so good to be lying on a portable couch again, a needle stuck in my arm, donating blood to the American Red Cross.

It’s been almost two years since I was allowed give this lifesaving gift and it feels really, really good.

Fun – if sobering – facts:

  • There is NO man-made substitute for human blood for accident and burn victims, surgery and organ transplant patients, and those being treated for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.
  • Every day, the Red Cross needs about 13,000 blood donations to meet the needs of patients at some 2,500 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country.
  • Only about 3 percent of the American population donates blood.
  • Every year, too many blood donors “disappear.” Some die (the World War II and Korean War generations were especially faithful blood donors); some start taking medications that shouldn’t be transmitted to a blood recipient; others drift away for personal reasons.

And some get “furloughed,” like I did.

Eilene gives again

Eilene Guy giving blood again.  Photo credit: Don Guy for the American Red Cross

I’d been showing up at Red Cross blood drives pretty regularly for more than 15 years. I’m O positive, so my blood’s widely useful and I have “good veins,” so the phlebotomists love me.

But in March 2018 I took a family vacation to the Dominican Republic. The next time I showed up to give blood, I learned I was sidelined for one year, because the DR is a malaria risk zone. Nuts!

Then, in December 2018, I went to India. Even though I took anti-malaria medications, the one-year disqualification clock started again.

Like so many of the Red Cross blood collection protocols, this is mandated by the federal Food and Drug Administration, to protect the millions of people who receive blood.

This month I was finally cleared to donate again. And as I said, it felt really good.

In fact, donating felt even better than it did two years ago. The disinfectant they swab on the arm isn’t iodine anymore, so the “sting” of the needle is gone. Woo hoo!

“If every blood donor who has been temporarily deferred would come back at the end of their ‘time out,’ it would really help the blood supply,” said Christy Peters, regional biomedical communications manager. “Those folks have already shown that they’re generous with the gift of life. We want to welcome them back as soon as we can.”

The need for blood is constant. Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. And this is National Blood Donor Month.

Next month, on February 11th, the largest blood drive of the year in Northeast Ohio takes place at Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights.  Visit RedCrossBlood.org and use the promo code “Landerhaven” to make an appointment to donate there.  You can also find the date, time and location of your nearest Red Cross blood drive there.  Or can call 1-800-REDCROSS, or text BLOODAPP to 90999 or search “Red Cross Blood” on the App Store or Google Play to get the free Blood Donor App.

 

 

Akron middle school students present creative ideas for disaster relief

By Debbie Chitester, Disaster Program Manager, Summit, Portage and Medina Counties

January 24, 2020- Two years ago I partnered with the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School in Akron. This year I was asked to partner with the STEM Middle School sixth grade on a project. They use problem-based learning in their school. The problem they were presented with was: How can we, as concerned citizens, work together to assist the emotional needs of survivors of natural disasters and consider:

STEM Ozobot game

  • The structure of the response needed
  • The geographical location
  • The emotional needs of the young people affected

The class of more than 100 learners identified the American Red Cross as an organization that helps with disaster relief but was not sure how we did that. In mid-December I visited the classroom and talked about what we do during disasters, including sheltering, feeding, how we use GIS and mapping to make decisions, how we work with partners as well as how we deal with the emotional part of disaster relief. Their questions were thoughtful, and they had a lot of them.

STEM augmented reality cube

A month later, I was invited back for the presentations. “Impressive” and “amazing” were the words that kept coming out of my mouth. The students were separated into small groups and had been assigned various disaster types — flood, tornado, hurricane, drought, chemical spills, blizzards, etc. The solutions were unique, well thought out and, in some cases, mind blowing. I couldn’t believe sixth graders came up with these things!

STEM Droughtgameboard

One team, assigned drought, developed a board game. This game was fun as well as educational. Through question and answer cards, it detailed how to conserve water or reasons drought happens.

STEMComicBook

A few teams created websites. One for chemical spills addressed how to avoid them, what to do if one affects your home and who can help. They handed out a card with a QR code linking you to their website, and plan on distributing them around Akron so residents can learn more. Another website created a pen pal site for those affected by a disaster so they could connect with someone willing to share their experiences with others. One team created an augmented reality with a 3D cube that when you put your phone or tablet in front of the cube it showed, from all angles, a beach, the fish swimming in the ocean and the sun shining above it. The student said, “Well this is pretty basic.” Far from basic to me!

STEM1

This list can go on and on. I wish I had a few more hours to have walked through every display to hear all their ideas and presentations.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer 

Interested in giving back to your community? Come to a Red Cross Volunteer Session!

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross Volunteer

January 23, 2020- Are you interested in making a difference in your community by assisting individuals in need?

Doug Blog

The American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio has a critical need for volunteers to respond to local disasters, to assist at blood drives and to transport lifesaving blood.

Louisiana Floods 2016

The Red Cross will be holding informational sessions across Northeast Ohio to help you learn about the many ways you can make a difference as a Red Cross volunteer. You’ll hear from current volunteers and have an opportunity to ask questions. We’ll also have volunteer applications available at the sessions.

California Wildfires 2019

Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga County Sessions

Saturday, January 25th and Saturday, February 29th

10-11 AM

Red Cross Regional Headquarters

3747 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH

Summit, Portage and Media County Sessions

Saturday, February 1st and Saturday, March 1st

10-11 AM

Red Cross Akron Office

501 W. Market St., Akron, OH

Ashtabula, Columbiana, Jefferson, Mahoning, Trumbull County Session

Wednesday, February 19th

8:30-10:30 AM

Hoge’s Restaurant

16128 E Liverpool Rd., East Liverpool, OH

To RSVP for one of the information sessions above, contact Gail Wernick at 216-431-3328 or gail.wernick@redcross.org.

IMG_6296

Can’t make it to a volunteer session, but interested in volunteering? Click here to visit our volunteer page to learn more about volunteering with the Red Cross and to submit a volunteer application.

Smoke alarm sounds to save life of Olmsted Township resident

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

January 21, 2020- For many, a smoke alarm might be viewed as an annoyance that sounds off if we get dinner a little burnt. However, a smoke alarm is more than a random device that hangs out of sight around the house. It is a tool that could help save your life in the event of a home fire.

That was the experience of 86-year-old Olmsted Township resident Barbara Kovolenko.

On June 28, 2019, Barbara was awakened from a deep sleep at 1:23 a.m. to her smoke alarms screaming their alert. Barbara quickly realized this was not a false alarm. Her home was, in fact, on fire.

thumbnail_IMG_1910

Fire Chief Patrick Kelly with Barbara Kovolenko

Barbara, who requires oxygen, quickly remembered the information she received from the American Red Cross, which in partnership with the Olmsted Township Fire Department, installed smoke alarms in her home free of charge as part of a Sound the Alarm installation event. Using her newfound knowledge, Barbara evacuated the home to a safe location, did not enter her home again and waited for first responders to arrive on the scene and extinguish the fire.

In 2014, the Red Cross launched the Home Fire Campaign, a nationwide initiative to reduce the number of fire-related deaths by 25 percent. As of the end of 2019, 699 lives had been saved across the country – among them, Barbara Kovolenko.

40716406013_de8f7205c8_c

To learn more about the importance of having working smoke alarms on every level of your home, or to ask for a home fire safety inspection and smoke alarm installation, visit soundthealarm.org/neo.

To hear more about Barbara and this incredible story about the lifesaving impact of smoke alarms, listen to our recent episode of the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region Podcast Be A Hero, featuring Barbara and Olmsted Township Fire Chief Patrick Kelly.

For more content on this incredible story, view this video of Chief Kelly interviewing Barbara, which was posted on the Olmsted Township Fire Department Facebook page.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Red Cross Summer Youth Corps offers enriching opportunities for those from 13 to 24 years of age

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

January 17, 2020- While 2020 has just begun, it’s a good time for young people to consider summer volunteer opportunities. The American Red Cross is proud to offer its Summer Youth Corps program, a meaningful, rewarding experience for those 13-24 years of age to help save lives and assist their communities. Participants also gain valuable training, work experience, skill development, and networking opportunities to help them prepare for their futures.

39957787330_e08b79fab1_c

Those taking part in the Summer Youth Corps will serve as Red Cross Blood Drive Ambassadors. After training and orientation, they will be able to volunteer at blood drives being held throughout Northern Ohio between May 1 and August 31. The requirement is 10 shifts. Participants provide their own transportation to and from the drive, and a Parental Consent Form is needed for those 17 and under.

Superstorm Sandy 2012

Red Cross Blood Drive Ambassadors have a range of customer service and other responsibilities. These include:

  • Engaging with blood donors, creating a favorable impression of the Red Cross, and helping develop a long-term commitment to regular blood donations.
  • Making reminder calls, rescheduling donor appointments, and performing follow up activities.
  • Welcoming and greeting donors, escorting as necessary, and assisting with initial intake and hand offs through the blood donation process.
  • Ensuring blood donors have relevant information and that questions are answered appropriately.
  • Attending to donors in the Hospitality Area, ensuring each is recognized for his or her contribution.
  • Displaying the utmost professionalism and communication skills.
  • Learning and sharing the Red Cross story, including the mission, vision, and values.

Oroville Dam Spillway Compromised 2017

Volunteering as a Blood Drive Ambassador offers a number of benefits. A few of these include:

  • A letter of reference, which can greatly assist with future plans, including college and job applications.
  • Documented community service hours.
  • The opportunity to work directly with medical staff.
  • The ability to build customer service skills, especially with the provided training.
  • Valuable work experience to help prepare for the future.
  • Networking and meeting new people.
  • The feeling of helping save lives and contributing to your community.

Sound the Alarm Fulton

Volunteering with the Red Cross in any capacity is a deeply rewarding experience. The Summer Youth Corps offers enriching opportunities and the ability to help people and communities. If you or your children would like more information or to apply for the program, please go to redcrossblood.org or contact Gail Wernick at gail.wernick@redcross.org or 216-431-3328.

Alert: Critical need for blood and platelet donors

By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Northern Ohio Biomedical Services

January 15, 2019- The American Red Cross is asking the public to kick off 2020 by doing something big: Give blood or platelets now to address the critical need for blood donors of all blood types – especially type O – and platelet donors.

Red Cross_Critical Need.png

A shortfall in donations can cause delays in care

The family of 12-year-old Dagan Hawkins, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in November, knows this all too well. “While at the hospital, Dagan needed platelet and blood transfusions,” said Dustin Hawkins, Dagan’s father. “There was a time when platelets had to be delivered from another location because they were not available.”

Recipient_Dagan

Dagan Hawkins

You can help restock the shelves

  1. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
  2. Let your friends and family know there is a critical need for blood and platelet donors and ask them to #GiveNow.
  3. Bring someone to donate with you.

Your support can help ensure blood products are there for patients going through cancer treatments, trauma victims, premature babies and others who depend on transfusions for survival.

Be a champion for patients in need

Super Bowl Giveaway (1)

To help tackle the current critical need for blood and platelets, the Red Cross has teamed up with the NFL to offer one lucky winner the chance to experience the Super Bowl live in Miami. Those who come to give by Jan. 19, 2020, will automatically be entered for a chance to win an exciting Super Bowl LIV getaway for two. The Super Bowl LIV getaway package includes two tickets to Super Bowl LIV, entry to the official NFL Tailgate, two tickets to Super Bowl Experience at the Miami Beach Convention Center, round-trip airfare to Miami and three-night hotel accommodations (Jan. 31-Feb. 3, 2020), and a $500 gift card for expenses. Terms apply; visit RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl for more information.

Don’t wait to help. Make your game plan to give now and help save lives.

If you are unable to give now, but will be eligible by February 11, sign up to donate during the annual Landerhaven blood drive on February 11, 2020. Enjoy gourmet food, live music and receive a free t-shirt, as you spread the love to someone in need.

Enjoy the open road as you help save lives

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

January 10, 2020- Do you enjoy the freedom of driving on the open road? Are you always volunteering to drive around family and friends? Are you looking for an opportunity to help save lives, while enjoying your love of driving? Well, you are in luck!

Volunteer Couriers

The American Red Cross is currently looking for passionate drivers to serve as volunteer transportation specialists in Cuyahoga County. This unique opportunity allows volunteers to support blood pick-up at both mobile and fixed site blood drives in Cuyahoga County.

The Red Cross collects and distributes about 40% of our nation’s blood supply. As a volunteer transportation specialist, when you pick up blood, platelets or other blood products from a blood collection site or deliver them to a hospital, you’re delivering lifesaving hope to a person in need.

Volunteer Couriers

Still not sure if this is quite the right fit? Listen to Peter Hoffman, one of the transportation specialists in Cuyahoga County. Hear why Peter volunteers with the Red Cross, some of his tasks and the feeling he gets from helping others in need.

For more information and to apply to become a volunteer transportation specialist, visit redcross.org/volunteer or call 216-431-3328.