May Featured Donor of the Month

photo 2 (15)Mothers play a significant role in their child’s life whether it may be providing unconditional love through their successes and failures and even support through their struggles. Gail Ramos practices this notion with her family, friends and co-workers. When someone is in need, Gail doesn’t hesitate to help other people and she is willing to go that extra mile for the people she cares about.

Gail was inspired by her mother, Geraldine Adams to donate blood, “my mom is a regular donor and she would always tell me it’s a simple way to make a positive impact in someone’s life,” explained Gail. In December 1996, Gail donated her first pint at the Kern County Superintendent of School’s mobile blood drive. Unexpectedly the following year, donating blood would have a different meaning to Gail. Gail’s best friend’s brother who was only in 8th grade at the time, was diagnose with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. In a heartbeat, Gail wanted to help out in any way possible. Then, Gail found out she was an exact match to donate blood for him. “When my best friend’s mom told me she saw the doctor hang my unit for her son, that was a life changing moment for the both of us. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that I saved someone’s life. Because every time I see my best friend’s brother, it makes me realize donating blood was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life,” expressed Gail.

Gail is proud of her 7 gallon license plate!

You will find Gail at one of our east Bakersfield mobiles where she has donated 7 gallons of her O+ blood. When Gail donates she always tries to include her daughter and son so they can get in the habit of donating and understand the importance of community service. Even though Gail’s son is autistic, she is proud that her son hopes to donate one day because he understands the importance of being someone’s lifesaver.

Besides being an avid blood donor, Gail is a huge NASCAR fan and she enjoys gardening and spending time with her family. She encourages others to donate, “people should not wait for another tragedy before they donate, they need to act now because you never know who will need it in the moment.”

 

Pledge to Give This Summer!

Summer PledgeTo help us meet patient needs this summer, donors are needed to come in regularly to give blood, platelets and plasma.  The Summer Pledge Drive encourages such donations with exclusive prizes available only to those who pledge and donate between May 1 and September 30, 2015.  Each visit to a donor center or mobile drive qualifies you for one entry for all the prizes.  We will accumulate the entries for each person pledging to give, so you only need to pledge one time using the form below.  Thanks for taking the pledge to save lives this summer season!  Information on the pledge drive prizes is available here.

Local Battle of the Bay Drive Returns

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The Bakersfield Black Hole Club
is organizing their 3rd annual blood drive along with the Kern County Niner Empire, Bakersfield Raider Booster Club,Thee Empire Faithful SF 49er Booster Club. We call it Kern County’s Battle of The Bay. These clubs are all coming together for a common goal: to save lives in their community! Support your favorite team by donating blood, platelets or plasma, beginning Thursday, May 7 through Saturday, May 9, 2015. Donate during the drive and you’ll be entered to win a 32″ LED DVD Combo TV! Socialize and save lives with other Raider and 49er fanatics at the kick-off social event on Thursday, May 7 at the Truxtun Donor Center, 5901 Truxtun Avenue, from 4-7 pm.

10251984_10152177623749582_5524475859871411377_nPaul Ocampo, President of The Bakersfield Black Hole Raiders Club, wanted their club to take part in a third blood drive to make a positive impact in the community. “The Black Hole Raiders Club members believe in spreading our message of positive fanaticism through solidarity as we promote team spirit, community outreach, and civic pride. We are proud supporters of our local Bakersfield community and feel honored to be able to donate blood, help save lives and encourage all others to do the same, he said.”

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Karina and Deisy are holding up the 32′ Flat Screen TV that one lucky donor will win!

There will be a Tailgate Party at the Truxtun Donor Center on Saturday, May 9th from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm featuring delicious tailgate food for donors and fans.  Live music is planned and donors will have one last chance to score the flat screen TV! For more information about Kern County’s Battle of The Bay Blood Drive, or an appointment, call us at 661-616-2505. You can also make an appointment online.

Awesome New Gold Club Dinner

Gold Club DinnerAlmost 300 donors and guests were in attendance at our inaugural Gold Club Dinner. This annual event was called the Platelet Dinner in the past, but the new name takes into account that plasma donors are now part of the club.  Plasma only donations began in April 2014.

Guests enjoyed Hodel’s famous buffet, raffle prizes, and snack gifts compliments of platelet donor Michael Mayo of Frito-Lay, and platelet donor Gary Ketchell who provided pistachios for his fellow donors. TerumoBCT, Inc, maker of our automated donation machines, made a monetary donation and Ballooniverse by Jennifer made a contribution to the decorations that night. The theme this year was “Go for the Gold,” in keeping with the name change. Director of Community Development, Carola Enriquez, explained to the audience that the new Gold Club designation reflects the color of these specialized products: “not only does this sound exclusive, it helps us explain the club to donors we want to ‘convert’ from donating red or whole blood to platelets and plasma,” she explained.

1743639_10152843847294582_4001421973234486907_nPresident and CEO Greg Gallion updated the audience on the state of the blood bank and applauded our platelet and plasma donors for their significant contributions to our successes. He reported that we are proud of having the lowest “out date rate” in the nation. He was very happy to report that our nonprofit’s outdate rate is only 2.5% meaning that 97.5% of our platelet collections make it to a patient. The national average is more than 4 times that figure! In 2014, 73.2% of products from automated collection were platelets and we collected 2,391 units of plasma which was up 1.3% over the year before. He explained the increasing need for platelets and plasma, and a decrease in the need for red cells, due to new treatment protocols.

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Pictured are Harold, Nurse Cindy, and Randy, all Houchin staff members. Harold had just finished a plasma only donation. Nurse Cindy was our featured survivor speaker at the Gold Club dinner earlier this month. Randy is in the middle of a triple platelet donation.

Cindy Fisher, RN was the featured survivor speaker at this years dinner. Cindy is one of our Charge Nurses, known to many donors. Cindy is a cancer survivor and needed blood, platelets and plasma in her fight for life. At one point she was only given 2 weeks to live. Her story of shock at the diagnosis, agonizing treatments, rehab, debilitating setbacks, and ultimately kicking cancer drew a standing ovation from the audience. Her story was truly an inspiration to all who attended.

To be invited to the 2016 dinner, all you have to do is donate platelets or plasma through automated donation at least 6 times during 2015. For more information, please call 661-323-4222 and ask for the Trima Desk.

 

 

April 2015 Donor of the Month

photo 2 (14)Just a month after Reagan Wanner turned 16, she was in line to donate blood at North High School. Reagan was inspired by her father, David to donate because, “I watched my dad be someone else’s Superhero, which made me want to follow in his footsteps,” said Reagan. It took Reagan only 15 months to hit her gallon milestone and so far she is the youngest donor to reach her gallon this year, as well as our first new member of the Gallon Grad Club.

Reagan’s first donation experience might have stopped others from donating again, “my veins weren’t as plumped and the phlebotomist was having a hard time finding my veins and so, my first donation was unsuccessful and my arm was even bruised for a couple of weeks,” explained Reagan. But, this incident did not stop her from donating, “my first try was just a small hiccup;  just thinking about other people who are sick in the hospital who have it worse, made me want to donate as soon as possible.” Reagan’s second attempt was a complete success!  On January 15, 2015 Reagan achieved her first gallon! “I am inspired to continue my mission of saving lives because of my dad, the 10 gallon achievement wall, and of course the people that need blood products,” Reagan added.

Besides being a dedicated donor and a busy high school student, Reagan enjoys being part of the Youth Group at Parkside Church, volunteering at the League of Dreams and she takes extra classes at CSUB. Reagan encourages others to donate, ” if you have a fear of needles, well, it isn’t as bad as it seems and it only takes about 35 minutes of your time to save at least 3 lives!”

 

 

March Featured Donor of the Month

photo 1 (16)Growing up, Kevin Mulhause was like any typical teenager where everything was about him. Until one life changing incident triggered him to make a change. Now, Kevin is the 8th highest platelet donor at Houchin.

In the early 1990s, Kevin received a call from his aunt that her son needed blood products because he had leukemia. Without any hesitation, Kevin stopped by the blood bank to make a lifesaving donation. “At the time I wanted to help, but I was little naive about the process. But, Houchin staff educated me on the importance of donating, which made me commit,” said Kevin.

photo 2 (11)Kevin donated whole blood every 8 weeks until one day, one of our staff members asked him if he could donate platelets because of his great veins! “If I can maximize my donation with one visit then why not, especially knowing, platelets only have a 5 day shelf life,” said Kevin. Now, Kevin has donated 545 platelets and 10 pints of whole blood!

Kevin continues to donate in honor of his mom who died 10 years ago from cancer, and for all the survivor stories he has witnessed at each platelet dinner he attends. Besides being an avid donor, he enjoys racing remote control cars in his spare time. Kevin encourages others to donate because, “someone will always need blood products and without donors, we won’t be giving patients a fighting chance to survive.”

 

Condor’s Out for Blood in 2015

_2MN9705One lucky donor will score a great prize during this year’s Condors Out for Blood Drive: the use of the Condors Legends Suite with a great view of all the game action for 18 people, AND the opportunity to drop the puck before the game! Everyone will really be impressed with the luxurious accommodations, including a ride up the private elevator and no-host waiter/waitress service. Optional catering is also available in the suite. Truly a “suite deal”!

The Condors have been treating families to a great night out for 17 years, and have just become the Official ECHL Affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers.  This is really a move up in the standings which promises to step up the action to an all new high!

BakersfieldCondors LogoFor your chance to win this fabulous night out in Condorstown, donate during this year’s Condors Out for Blood Drive which takes place from Thursday, March 5 to Thursday, March 19, 2015.  During the drive, every donor will receive a voucher good for a $1 lower level ticket to the game on March 24th against the rival Alaska Aces. That leaves extra cash to enjoy your choice of refreshments while watching an action-packed game! The grand prize winner will be drawn at 12:00 noon on Friday, March 20 so the lucky donor can plan their guest list for the Legends Suite.

There will also be a blood drive social at the Bolthouse Donor Center on Wednesday, March 18 from 5:00 to 6:30 pm with Condors players and mascots.  Come save some lives, meet the guys, and enjoy Shred the Competition Sandwiches. The KUZZ Prize wheel will be here with a live remote broadcast too. We hope to see you then!

The Bakersfield Condors are very active in the community sponsoring such annual favorites as the Teddy Bear Toss for less fortunate children, and making public appearances at special events all over town.  The Condors have become internationally know for their promotions, including the infamous escaping condor video on YouTube, which now has well over a million views! The Condors obviously like to show their fans a great time, and we hope all our donors who are not yet into this exciting sport will give a game a try with their voucher.

February Donor Julian Bernard

JB - gallon clubThrough hard work and dedication, Julian Bernard has achieved his one gallon milestone. Julian has been donating blood every chance he could since he was old enough. Julian has been in the Air Force Reserves for three years and he knows how critical it is to have a safe and reliable blood supply. “Every time there was a blood drive, he was there”, said his wife Tenina. So, far Julian has only missed one blood drive because he was in Mississippi with the Air Force.

Julian donated regularly while serving in the Air Force, and first donated with Houchin at Rio Tinto Minerals, while working there.  He now donates at Mojave Air and Spaceport, where he works for Scaled Composites.  “He knows how critical his O- blood is for our blood supply and comes in with a smile on his face and brings along a group of his coworkers”, said Christina Scrivner, our East Kern Community Development Account Manager. Julian hopes his example and encouragement will help others understand the importance of donating blood since the need never ends. He is proud to be in our one gallon club and plans to reach more milestones. He has already signed up for the next blood drive in Mojave to get started on gallon number two!

Second Annual Hearts United Blood Drive

Heart LogoNothing beats a healthy heart, the American Heart Association – Kern County Chapter (AHA) are joining us for our second annual Hearts United Blood Drive in celebration of American Heart Month. One out of every four deaths is heart related, and the surgeries which prevent those deaths often require blood products. You can help by donating blood, platelets or plasma this month!

Blood, platelet and plasma donors help save the lives of cardiac patients before, during, sometimes after surgery, so each week in February, we will be featuring a heart surgery survivor and their “story from the heart.”  For each pint of blood donated during the month-long drive, we will donate $5.00 to AHA, up to $5,000. This partnersGo Red Logohip between the two nonprofits highlights the need for blood every day to serve heart patients.  In addition, one lucky blood donor will win two tickets to the Go Red for Women Luncheon, Fashion Show and Conference on Friday, February 27 organized by our local AHA chapter.

The American Heart Association is the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to defeating heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Their  mission is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke the nation’s No.1 and No.4 killers. Transfusion of red blood cells is required in 40%-90% of patients undergoing cardiac surgery, depending on the surgery type. On average, a heart surgery patient needs up to 6 units of red blood cells and 1 platelet transfusion.

  • Find our more about our featured heart surgery survivors who needed blood products here.
  • February is American Heat Month. Schedule a blood donation in honor of someone you know and other cardiac patients in need. Schedule Now. 

Stories from the Heart

Heart LogoIn February we think of the heart. Blood, platelet and plasma donors are everyday heroes whose donations save and enhance the lives of patients in need. Health organizations estimate a heart transplant requires 4-6 units of red blood cells; adult open heart surgery, 2-6 units of red blood cells, 2-4 units of plasma and 1-10 units of platelets; newborn open heart surgery, 1-4 units of red blood cells, 1-2 units of plasma, and 1-4 units of platelets; and abdominal aortic aneurysm, 4-6 units of red blood cells.

Each week in February during the Hearts United Blood Drive, we will be featuring a heart surgery survivor from the American Heart Association-Kern County Chapter and their “story from the heart.” Each survivor will be hosting a group donation during their featured week at the Bolthouse Donor Center as well.

Week one: Lori Gibbons
Lori GibbonsIn August 2013, Lori Gibbons was at work when she felt pain in her back and chest and couldn’t catch her breath. She knew something wasn’t right and tried to dismiss it, but decided to have her colleague take her to the hospital. Lori subconsciously remembered the AHA “Just A Little Heart Attack” video that her fellow State Farm coworker and friend, Brandi Dawlatly, had recently shared, and that’s when she realized she was having a heart attack. Before Lori was put in the ambulance she told her 20 year old son by text to come over to the hospital after his college final. “They brought him back to the ER room as they working on me I told him how proud I was of him, how he cannot let this affect him and he’ll be so successful in life and have a beautiful family, I made him promise whatever happens, make me proud,” said Lori.  Lori underwent surgery, survived and went home to recover. Only one day later, she had a second heart attack due to a blood clot, and underwent another surgery. Her severe wake-up call has led her to change her lifestyle by eating well, exercising, and losing weight. Lori is grateful to her friends for saving her life, and she hopes her story is a testament to the power of heart health education. In April 2014, Lori had another surgery and two more stents were put in her heart. With 3 surgeries under her belt, Lori received numerous blood products, so she is forever thankful to our blood donors. Not only did they save her life, but that of her sister as well as she battled cancer twice.

Lori will be hosting her group donation on Thursday, February 12 at the Bolthouse Donor Center from 4 pm – 7 pm.

Week two: Nikki West
Nikki WestNikki was an active college athlete at California State University Bakersfield (CSUB)  until a cardiomyopathy nearly took her life on April 15, 2009. It triggered a sudden cardiac arrest while she was swimming at school. Nikki’s heart had stopped beating. Passing students pulled her out of the water, and CPR was performed. An ambulance took her to the hospital where she remained unconscious for days. A long and slow rehabilitation process followed. The loss of oxygen to her brain resulted in memory loss. It was very difficult for her to go back to school, but after much hard work and dedication, Nikki began to slowly regain her memory and was able to graduate and now she is pursuing her masters at CSUB. Nikki’s story is one of perseverance, and she is extremely grateful for the friends, family and professors who supported her through her recovery. She is also grateful to all the blood donors who made it possible for her to have a second chance.

Nikki will be hosting her group donation on Saturday, February 7 at the Bolthouse Donor Center from 11 am – 2 pm.

Week three: Cindy Steel
cindy steelCindy was out working in her garden in late 2011 when she experienced what she thought was heartburn at the time. Then as the weeks went by, Cindy continued to have this same feeling. Sleeping at night became very uncomfortable, as she started having a deep burning sensation in her chest and the pain would move to her shoulders and into her jaw. After a month of many tests and medications, no problems were found with Cindy’s digestive system, so she was referred to a cardiologist.  Her cardiologist immediately scheduled an angiogram at 11:30 a.m., by 4:00 p.m. that same day she was having open heart surgery, which turned out to be a quadruple bypass. Cindy had 95% blockage, yet prior to this health emergency, Cindy had never been diagnosed with any major medical conditions. Cindy had always been a very active person throughout her life. She loved to garden, and go camping and fishing with her husband, David. Cindy was not going to let this heart condition get her down. Cindy prevailed in her surgery and since then, has learned to cook healthier.  Lifestyle changes have been critical: “having a supportive husband and family is very crucial to making changes to your lifestyle too,” says Cindy. Cindy is happy to share her experience with others in hope to raise awareness about the #1 killer of women. Cindy also understands the importantance of blood donors, “a constant supply of donors is necessary to ensure the blood donor center has blood every day and I am thankful that they helped saved my life.”

Cindy will be hosting her group donation on Saturday, February 21 at the Bolthouse Donor Center from 9 am – 12 pm.

Charlie and JoslynnWeek four: Joslynn and Charlie Skelton
Joslynn Skelton and her husband Andrew were joyfully expecting their third daughter due July 1, 2014. However, unlike their first two children, this baby girl brought with her a whole new journey for their family — a journey full of fears and unknowns. At 22 weeks gestation, they were told that their daughter Charlotte “Charlie” Skelton had Hypo-plastic Left Heart Syndrome, meaning she was missing the left side of her heart and her aorta was completely closed off.
“Knowing that our little girl had a broken heart absolutely broke our hearts in turn,” recalls Joslynn, who since has learned that congenital heart disease kills more babies and children than all childhood cancers combined. She also learned that their child was not alone, since 1 in every 100 children is born with a congenital heart defect (CHD). Although the statistics were daunting, Andrew and Joslynn received a ray of hope knowing that through life-saving surgeries and treatments, Charlie would have a real chance to thrive. Charlie is the epitome of courage, determination and hope as she has survived two open heart surgeries, implantation of a pacemaker, numerous procedures in the catheterization laboratory, several blood transfusions and countless needle pokes.

Charlie’s latest open heart surgery was on December 5, 2014. During this operation her surgeons worked to reconfigure her heart to function in a way where her right side does all of the work. It will oxygenate the blood and pump it throughout her body. Charlie will have a minimum of one more surgery to complete this process, sometime between the ages of 2 and 4. “There are no words to explain what you go through as a parent when you watch your child literally fight to live,” says Joslynn Skelton. Joslynn and Andrew are thankful to all the blood donors who volunteer to give their lifesaving products. Between Charlie’s two open heart surgeries, she had received 4-5 units of blood along with 5 other blood transfusions.

The Skelton family soon became advocates for the heart community and took action to spread awareness; they truly embraced the heart community and life as a heart family.  “We all found our roles. Even our oldest daughter has taken action by starting a social media campaign to find a cure for Charlie, donating the proceeds to the American Heart Association”. They started a Facebook page documenting their journey as a heart family named “Hearts For Charlie” and one day they hope to see a cure for all children fighting CHD.

Charlie will be hosting her group donation on Saturday, February 28 at the Bolthouse Donor Center from 11 pm – 2 pm.

February is American Heart Month. Schedule a blood donation in honor of someone you know who has heart problems or other cardiac patients in need. Schedule Now.