Don’t assume you can’t donate blood

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

“You can’t do that!”

He heard it more than once, from more than one well-wishing, but uninformed friend and acquaintance.

Cleveland City Councilman Kevin Conwell represents Ward 9, including Glenville and part of University Circle, north of Euclid Avenue. Honored in Washington as National Father of the Year, Conwell has served on City Council since 2001.

Conwell was a frequent blood donor, repeatedly donating since 2004. “I would donate as often as I could,” said Conwell. “We often held blood drives right in the lobby of city hall, that made it easy for us to donate.”

Then Conwell was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2013. With quick detection of the cancer, and treatment at the Cleveland Clinic, Conwell kicked the disease and has been cancer-free for a number of years.

“When I talked about donating again, friends would repeatedly tell me, ‘You can’t donate blood after receiving chemotherapy. There’s no way.’”

Then Conway got a phone call from the American Red Cross, asking if they could schedule a blood donation for him.

“You don’t want my blood,” he said. “I’ve had chemo treatments for colon cancer.”

“Are you still receiving chemo treatments?” the operator asked.

“No, I’ve been done with those for a couple years,” Conway replied.

“Well, good then. Let me make you an appointment. You are clear to donate,” explained the operator.

And he did. And he continues to donate.

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“I tell everyone I talk to at City Council that ‘Yes, you can donate after colon cancer.’ They are usually surprised.”

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It’s a common misconception that certain infections, afflictions or diseases will disqualify you from donating. But don’t assume. There’s an easy way to find out for sure.

Call the Red Cross Donor Suitability line at 1-866-236-3276. Tell them any health concerns you have, and a trained professional will be able to tell you whether you can donate today or if maybe you need to wait a certain amount of time before you donate.

There’s a severe shortage of blood and platelets this year. With the severe winter weather we experienced, many blood drives had to be canceled. Even before that, there was a great demand for blood following many of the national disasters late last year.

Make the call. Only about 40 percent of the population can donate, and merely 10 percent of them actually do.

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).

Editor’s note: Councilman Conwell’s story has been shared on the national Red Cross website, with the hope of reaching a wider audience with his message.  You can access the story here. 

March is Red Cross Month: Highlighting the impact of the Red Cross in Northeast Ohio and beyond

February 28, 2019—March is Red Cross Month, and the American Red Cross asks everyone to be a hero in their community by becoming a volunteer, learning lifesaving skills, giving blood or donating to #help1family on Red Cross Giving Day, March 27.

The need to help people is constant—and the past year of busy disaster activity was no exception. For 324 consecutive days, more than 43,000 people relied on the Red Cross for emergency shelter following events like record wildfires, hurricanes, floods and large apartment fires. From April 2018 to February 2019, more than 11,500 Red Cross volunteers left the comfort of their own homes to provide comfort, care and a safe place to sleep for tens of thousands affected by disasters.

Disatser Stats- FBDuring that period of devastating disaster, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio had 150 disaster volunteers deployed across the country, assisting residents in need and helping spread the Red Cross story, including Doug Bardwell, who was deployed for the first time and was sent to the Camp Fire disaster in California as a public affairs volunteer.

“During Red Cross Month, we honor the volunteer heroes who help families overcome life’s emergencies every day,” said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross. “These champions are our neighbors—ordinary people who make an extraordinary difference to ease the suffering of others, whether it’s saving a person’s life with CPR, donating blood for a hospital patient with life-threatening conditions, or comforting a family overwhelmed by a home fire or other crisis. We ask you to consider joining these heroes to answer the call for service in your community.”

WHAT IS RED CROSS MONTH More than 75 years ago, March was first proclaimed Red Cross Month in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to raise awareness of the organization and its humanitarian mission. All U.S. presidents since Roosevelt have designated March as Red Cross Month to recognize how the American Red Cross helps people across the country and around the world through its workforce powered by more than 90 percent volunteers.

EVERY EIGHT MINUTES, SOMEONE NEEDS HELP The Red Cross responds to more than 62,000 disasters a year, most of which are home fires. In January alone, Red Cross volunteers helped about 24,000 people affected by more than 5,700 home fires across every state.

Disasters can cause other critical needs too. This winter, thousands of blood donations have gone uncollected due to snow storms and extreme cold—underscoring the constant need for eligible individuals to donate blood.

‘VOLUNTEERING WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE’ Joe Apicelli is among the nearly 372,000 individuals who volunteer with the American Red Cross. Following a massive hurricane more than a decade ago, he was inspired to respond with his local chapter upon seeing heartbreaking images of the storm’s aftermath. Ever since, Apicelli has helped people affected by disasters, including last year’s record wildfires in California and Hurricanes Florence and Michael.207701-05-Giving-Day-2019-Social-Media-1200x1200-FB2

“Volunteering will change your life. It will give you an opportunity to work with people from all over the country and change up your lifestyle,” Apicelli said. “If you want to reach out and help others, volunteer and see the difference it can make in your life. I am honored every time I get to work with my fellow Red Crossers. These are people who have given up their vacation and free time to help others.”

HOW YOU CAN #HELP1FAMILY Learn more about how you can help in your area by contacting your local Red Cross chapter or visiting redcross.org/neo:

  • Become a volunteer: Help families affected by disasters and install lifesaving smoke alarms to keep neighbors safe from home fires. In some areas, you can also provide emergency assistance for military members and veterans, or help reconnect families separated by international conflict.
  • Give blood: Make an appointment to donate lifesaving blood or platelets.
  • Learn lifesaving skills: Register for a class to learn first aid, CPR and other skills.
  • Make a financial donation: On March 27—American Red Cross Giving Day—donate at redcross.org/givingdayuniting with thousands of people like you to help families during the first devastating hours of a disaster. Your gift can provide hope and urgent relief like food, shelter and other essentials for families who need it most.

Below is a video explaining the Red Cross’ history and how your support this March impacts your local community here in Northeast Ohio.

 

March is Red Cross Month

Cleveland Mayor Issues Proclamation; Terminal Tower Bathed in Red

giving_day_thank_you_b_1200x1200_final1We at the American Red Cross are recognizing the country’s everyday heroes during Red Cross Month.

March is Red Cross Month, the perfect time to honor our Red Cross volunteers, blood donors and financial contributors who bring hope to people facing life’s emergencies,” said Mike Parks, CEO, Northeast Ohio Region.  “During Red Cross Month, we thank them for their tremendous support.”

March has been recognized as Red Cross Month for more than 70 years. All of our presidents have designated March as Red Cross Month to recognize how the American Red Cross helps people across the country and around the world.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has issued a proclamation recognizing March as Red Cross Month as well.

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And the iconic Terminal Tower in downtown Cleveland was bathed in red light to mark the start of Red Cross month on March 1st.

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Volunteers and staff members in Tremont, with the Terminal Tower in the background.  The building was lit in red to recognize March as Red Cross Month.    Photo credit: Cal Pusateri/American Red Cross Volunteer

The Red Cross depends on local heroes to fulfill its mission. Every eight minutes, Red Cross disaster workers respond to a community disaster, providing shelter, food, emotional support and other necessities to those affected. We provide 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families at home and around the world. Nearly 14,000 donations of blood must be collected every day to meet patient needs. We train millions of people in first aid, water safety and other lifesaving skills. And we support the vaccination of children around the globe against measles and rubella.

In fiscal year 2016, the Northeast Ohio Region responded to 967 local emergencies, assisted 1,641 members of the military and their families and trained 64,598 people in lifesaving skills. And people from this area donated 144,089 units of blood.

“It’s easy to become a Red Cross community hero,” said Parks. “Be ready for an emergency by creating a preparedness plan for your home. Test your smoke alarms and tell your neighbors to do the same. Or sign up to be a Red Cross volunteer or make a financial donation.”

More information about how people can support the organization is available on redcross.org/neo. The Red Cross is not a government agency and relies on donations of time, money and blood to do its work. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs.

 

 

Prevent and Alleviate: Providing Fire Safety Education to Everyone

You may think that preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies – the two actions our mission charges us to do – is a tall order.

With over 4.5 million residents to educate and assist, it can be a little overwhelming.

And yet, when eating an elephant – take one bite at a time.

The first bite: teaching our young community members more about how to keep themselves (and their families) safe before, during and following a disaster.

We are proud to announce that we have hit our annual goal by teaching the pillowcase project, sponsored by Disney, to 2,892 local school-aged children!

The pillowcase project teaches kids about disasters that can happen here in Northeast Ohio, and what they and their families can do to prepare for and respond during an event. Home fire education is the most prevalent piece of this program, as we respond to an average of three home fires across Northeast Ohio each night.

During the program kids are taught about smoke alarms, what to do when a smoke alarm sounds, knowing exit strategies for each room, creating a family meeting spot and so much more.

But this education isn’t just for the children of our community.

We are dedicated to sharing these safety tips with everyone. That’s the second bite of the elephant.

Through Operation Save-A-Life we are helping families learn more about fire safety as well as providing the tools necessary to put that education into practice, should the time come.

As of March, 2016, we have installed over 8,844 smoke alarms in homes throughout Northeast Ohio.

That’s just 1,156 off from the stretch goal we gave ourselves in June, 2015. Our region currently leads the nation in number of smoke alarms installed.

We are very proud of what we have accomplished. And our dedicated work and planning is paying off. We see it in the success stories of families like this one from last summer, and this one from December.

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, to the Red Cross workforce who made those numbers happen. Thank you to those who continue to educate, install and provide hope to families and individuals in each of the communities that we serve.

You can eat an elephant – one bite at a time.

Thank you!!

20th Annual Acts of Courage event in Akron a success!

We are so pleased to be able to honor those in our community who have acted courageously to save the life of another. Each of the stories we have presented at the annual Red Cross Acts of Courage in Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties over the past twenty years have inspired so many people to step up and do the same.

We continue to be amazed by these people.

This year the Red Cross presented the Acts of Courage award to ten individuals.  Whether saving a woman from a home fire, pulling a man from the wreckage of a car accident or performing an abdominal thrust to save a classmate, each of these honorees are so deserving of the recognition.

Here are their stories:

Colin Bues was recognized for performing abdominal thrusts to save the life of a classmate.

The self-described class clown, 9-year-old Weston Bauer was throwing cheese puffs into the air and catching them in his mouth during a classmate’s birthday party. One of these got lodged in his throat. Weston couldn’t breathe. He motioned that he was choking, but the other children thought he joking. Colin Bues, also 9-years-old, knew something was wrong. He ran to Weston and performed a quick abdominal thrust, the kind he had seen on a safety poster in the lunchroom at school. The puff went flying out of Weston’s mouth.

After confirming that Weston was okay, Colin threw the bag of cheese puffs in the trash. He was very pleased that he had helped his friend, but didn’t want it to happen again.

Edward Kocsis Jr. was recognized for saving a man following a car crash.

As Edward (Ed) Kocsis, Jr. and his fiancé were sitting at a red light, he noticed a car coming over the hill. It seemed like the driver was intent on rear-ending Ed, but at the last moment erratically pulled away. As the car drove past, Ed could see that the other driver was slumped over. The vehicle blew out a telephone pole and rolled.

“You see someone in trouble, and it’s just natural,” said Ed of his next move. “When you see something like that you don’t think, you just act.”

The driver side door was crushed, and through the window he could see that the driver’s head was twisted. Ed smelled fluid leaking on the hot engine. Carefully, he climbed in and pulled the bloody man out of the smoking car. Ed sat with him, cradling his head until first responders appeared.

Officer Brandon Bridgewater was recognized for saving multiple families and carrying a child from an apartment fire.

Three days into his career as a full-time Windham Police Officer, Brandon Bridgewater was first on the scene of an apartment building in flames. Running through the residence, he pounded on doors to wake residents. At one apartment, a startled mother and small child turned back for another child who was upstairs. Officer Bridgewater ran into the smoke filled apartment and carried the second child out into the cold night.

As they watched the flames, Officer Bridgewater kept the numerous, displaced families warm by bringing coffee from a nearby convenience store and letting the young and elderly wait in his cruiser until the Red Cross was on the scene to assist them.

Carolyn Hanson, and Kristin Dowling were recognized for performing CPR on a neighbor who had collapsed.

It began as a very unusual day for Carolyn Hanson. She had woken up with a backache on the morning of Dec. 30, 2014. When her husband suggested that they take a walk to work out the kinks on the nearby City of Stow Hike and Bike trail, she decided to take him up on it. Walking on the trail was something they did regularly, though not usually at that time.

On their way they met up with David Dluzyn, a neighbor who had just finished his morning run. As they were talking, David stopped suddenly and fell backwards – smack – on to the pavement. The couple called 911, and Carolyn began CPR. Neighbors began to come out to see what was happening. Carolyn, not knowing anything about David except for his name and that he lived somewhere close by, instructed one to look in David’s shoe where he had previously mentioned that he kept identifying information. After locating the slip of paper, the neighbor ran home to get his daughter, Kristin Dowling, who was also trained in CPR.

Kristen, who had received Red Cross training as a lifeguard, and Carolyn began to trade off doing compressions until the paramedics arrived.

David is recovering and continues to run on the trail.

 

Kizzy Spaulding was recognized for rescuing a woman from her burning home.

“You notice things,” said Kizzy Spaulding, an Akron-area postal worker. “Clients start to become family.”

As Kizzy walked her East Akron mail route, an unusual smell permeated the neighborhood. She noticed that one of her clients was not out working in her yard as was her daily routine. Kizzy sensed that something wasn’t right. She doubled-back and opened the client’s mail slot. She glanced through the small area and noticed the smell was coming from the home. She could see the elderly client holding her head and laying on a couch inside.

Kizzy began to call to the woman. She seemed dazed and did not respond. Fearing for her client, Kizzy pushed open the door and carried the slight woman outside. She called 911 before she returned to the house and doused the smoking stove.

Once first responders were on the scene, Kizzy picked up her mail pouch and returned to her route.

Scott Nelson and Bob Moore were recognized saving a man who was drowning in the freezing waters of the Ohio and Erie Canal.

It was well below freezing on January 9, 2015. Bob Moore and Scott Nelson were waiting for a car repair to be completed, and decided to find some place close to eat. They found a small establishment right on the Ohio & Erie Canal.

Inside they chatted with the owner, Stephen Risner, and made friends with his dog, Sam.

Shortly after ordering their food, a woman came into the lounge shouting that there was a man thrashing in the frozen canal. Scott and Bob ran out to see what was going on and found Sam, wet and whimpering, wandering the shores of the canal and barking for his owner. Stephen had fallen in while trying to rescue Sam from the water.

Scott waded into the water, while Bob retrieved a long extension cord from the car. After tossing the cord, the two were finally able to pull Stephen from the icy water.  First responders arrived on the scene and helped Stephen up the embankment and treated Scott, whose clothes were wet and cold.

Sam was put in a warm car.

Ashley Feldman was recognized for saving man who was had fallen outdoors during the polar vortex.

On one of the coldest mornings of 2015, Ashley Feldman was on her way to her job as a receptionist when she noticed something in the open field near the dog park at Liberty Park. The object struck her as odd, so she stopped to investigate.

It turned out to be an elderly man who had gone to the park to let his dog run. He had lost his footing in the deep snow and, having recently had replacement surgery in both knees, was unable to pull himself up.

Despite not being dressed for the frigid temperatures, Ashley ran to him. As she tried to provide him some warmth, he confided that he had been laying there for 45 minutes.

Kelli Chronister was recognized for performing CPR on a fellow bike rider during the Sweet Corn Challenge.

Kelli Chronister

In the July Sweet Corn Challenge bike ride, Kelli Chronister was riding behind a man who fell off his bike in the middle of the road at mile 22 of the 25 mile ride. She recognized a full-arrest heart attack and immediately started CPR. She continued for several minutes and as other cyclists and the police got to the scene, they took turns administering the CPR. When the emergency crews arrived they administered the defibrillator. The 52-year-old victim later learned that he had a serious heart condition that required surgery. The emergency people said that without that immediate help given by Kelli and others he would have died. Kellie teaches respiratory therapy at UA.

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To commemorate twenty years of celebrating acts of heroism, we launched a CrowdRise campaign at the event to encourage community members to #GetAlarmed and be a hero in our community by supporting our smoke alarms initiative, Operation Save-A-Life.  Through donations given at the event we raised $2,015 which will help us install smoke alarms in nearly 67 homes! If you wish to donate, visit bit.ly/GetAlarmedSPM. We would also encourage you to share the message with your friends and family. Together we can help save lives.

This year’s event raised nearly $140,000. Proceeds from last night will assist us in providing Red Cross services throughout Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties.

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In addition to recognizing the heroism of area residents at the event, we presented the H. Peter Burg Award to Leonard Foster, a community member who has been selfless in service to the community by demonstrating a lifelong commitment to humanitarian causes, charitable organizations and the vitality and welfare of the local community.

Extraordinary things happen every day…

Imagine waking up to a blaring smoke alarm.

 Through the bleary haze of your sleep-filled eyes, you begin to realize what is going on.

 Your first thoughts are of others who occupy your home – maybe your spouse, the children, a pet. You think about how to get them to safety. You trace the routes in your head.

 But then an extraordinary thing happens. In the fog of fear and smoke, you hear a neighbor calling out to you.

 “Are you all right? How can I help?”

 In that single act of selflessness, a hero is born.

This March, during national Red Cross Month, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio will honor the heroes – those ordinary members of our community who acted in extraordinary ways – in two communities.

The Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter will host the 20th Annual Acts of Courage on Thursday, March 3 at the Akron/Fairlawn Hilton. All through 2015, people were asked to submit their heroes. We will feature the stories of the honorees on this blog following the event. Tickets are available by going to the website: www.redcross.org/acts16

The Greater Cleveland Heroes event will take place on March 11. For information or to order tickets, please visit www.ClevelandHeroes.com, email laurie.klingensmith@redcross.org, or call 216-912-4091.

Celebrate March is Red Cross Month by Rolling Up Your Sleeves

March is Red Cross Month, and the Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donors to give now to help restock its shelves following recent winter weather.

Winter storms in March forced the cancellation of more than 200 Red Cross blood drives, resulting in nearly 7,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations. This shortfall follows more than 26,400 uncollected blood and platelet donations in February due to severe weather across 27 states. Regardless of the weather, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood – from cancer patients to accident victims to premature babies with complications.

March was first proclaimed Red Cross Month in 1943 by former President Franklin Roosevelt. Since then, every president has called on people across America to support the organization’s humanitarian mission in March.

You can help support the Red Cross and ensure blood and platelets are available for patients in need by scheduling an appointment to donate now. To find a donation opportunity near you, download the Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS. You can also help support the Red Cross by asking others to donate or creating a SleevesUp virtual blood drive.