July 2014 Donor of the Month

ElizabeIMG_3892th Slaydon was the first in her family to donate when she was 16 years old in Oklahoma. She has donated a gallon of whole blood.  She asked our staff if there was anything else that she could do besides whole blood because she felt like she wasn’t doing enough. That was when she learned about platelet donations. Having had a grandfather who battled cancer, she knew first hand the importance of the platelets. “It began with singles, doubles, now they have me doing triples!” She has now donated 63 platelets.

Elizabeth makes sure to tell everyone she knows about donating with Houchin. She made her mother so enthusiastic about donating that she convinced her employer to host a mobile blood drive.

She was excited to have her second child and to begin donating again. After she gave birth, she began to have internal bleeding and needed a blood transfusion. She used 2 units of blood. Because of her complications Elizabeth had to wait to donate, “I was devastated when I found out I had to wait another year to donate blood.”

Her 10 year old daughter was diagnosed with a heart problem last August while her son was diagnosed with a heart murmur a few months later. She continues to donate through it all. Elizabeth finds: “it’s therapeutic and I can relax while I helpIMG_8366
others.”

Elizabeth enjoys to read and spend time with her kids. Donating blood and platelets  “It’s
my purpose in my community, it replenishes itself, so why not donate?”

June 2014 Donors of the Month

photo 4 (13)There is nothing more important to Eric Metcalf than being the best father he can be to his children. When son Lucas achieved his one gallon milestone, Eric was excited that he was able to share this special moment with his son.

Eric began donating blood when his roommate in San Jose encouraged him: “I was healthy and it is an easy way to give back to your community,” explained Eric. Eric always wanted to donate because when he was 13 years old his grandfather had a heart attack and needed heart surgery. “At that time I realized that because of blood donors, they were able to extend my grandfather’s life, and I wanted to do the same for others in need,” says Eric.

Eric has donated 3 gallons of whole blood but wishes he could have found more time to donate. When Lucas turned 16 he decided to accompany his son at each donation. “As a parent, it is the right thing to do to support your children. I wanted to be a model of great behavior to my children and this was also a great opportunity to bond with my son,” said Eric. Lucas wanted to donate as soon as he turned 16 because his father inspired him to give back to the community, “my dad works hard and gives 100% in everything he does and besides donating blood, he volunteers at church and I want to follow in his footsteps,” explained Lucas. Eric and Lucas have made their blood donation into a father-son routine, “I encourage others to bring a friend or family member when they donate because it gives you more commitment and you get to share this lifesaving experience with someone you care about,” says Eric.

Besides donating, Lucas enjoys playing video games and he recently graduated high school. Lucas plans to go to Taft College to become a computer engineer. Eric enjoys spending quality time with his family and volunteering at First United Methodist Church. Eric’s goal is to encourage as many people as possible to donate, “I believe in this cause– people don’t realize the importance until they get affected, but people need to make time to give because it is the people who donated yesterday that saved a person’s life today.”

May 2014 Featured Donor of the Month

Nikki photoIn the past four years, “flight or fight” is the motto that Nikki Cross instilled in her two daughters in fighting numerous hurdles. Life became a whirlwind experience for Nikki Cross and her family. She has been in and out of hospitals with her two daughters Kayla and Kylee. When everything seemed to be spiraling downhill, Nikki along with her husband Kreg stayed strong for their two daughters.

Nikki struggled with her iron, so she was always envious when Kreg would go to the blood bank and donate. But when she found out her 12 year old daughter, Kylee, needed to undergo a scoliosis operation and needed to donate two pints of her own blood to use during her surgery, Nikki did what any mother would do, to be by her daughter’s side. Nikki wanted to make sure she was able to donate with Kylee and so she researched and found a way to alter her diet so she could pass her iron test. At Kylee’s second donation, Nikki was able to donate for the first time. Nikki wanted to show her daughters to never give up, “if you really want to help, you need to be persistent and alter your lifestyle because most things are fixable.”

Kayla, Nikki and Kylee at our Hearts United Blood Drive.

These past four years, Nikki found out she had Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, as does her 16 year old daughter, Kayla.  Kayla also had a bone tumor last September.  Kylee underwent a scoliosis surgery, and both Kayla and Kylee went through numerous reconstructive hip surgeries. In December, Nikki was diagnosed with diabetes, but she continued to donate. Nikki stayed strong for her daughters, “it has been a journey, but I tell my girls we can’t dwell on these experiences but what we can do is turn it around to help others.”

Now Nikki plans on becoming a platelet donor because she learned the vital need for platelet donations. She also added, “Kayla plans on donating blood in September and Kylee will be celebrating the one year anniversary of her blood drive on June 30,” said Nikki. Click here to find out more about Kylee’s 2nd Annual Scoliosis Strong Blood Drive.

Nikki enjoys spending time with her family and their 48 animals. She also enjoys watching Nascar racing.  Every March they all travel to Fontana, CA to watch Nascar live. Nikki encourages others to donate, “it is important to give back and to help those who are in need. Giving money can’t save someone’s life in the hospital, but by donating blood or platelets you are giving that person another chance at life.”

Local Football Clubs Encourages Community to Donate!

386916_10151446027494582_34911283_nThe Bakersfield Black Hole Club is organizing their 2nd annual blood drive along with Kern County Niner Empire, Bakersfield Raider Nation, Thee Empire Faithful SF 49er Booster Club called Kern County’s Battle of The Bay to support your favorite team by donating blood during the National Football League Draft. The blood drive begins Thursday, May 8  through Saturday, May 10, 2014.

Paul Ocampo, President, The Bakersfield Black Hole Raiders Club wanted their club to take part on a second blood drive because he wants to make a positive impact in the community ” The Black Hole Raiders fans 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.”

Tailgating Package

Tailgating Package: Weber Portable Grill, 10ft x 10ft Instant Canopy and MaxCold Igloo 100 quart cooler.

There will be a tailgate party at the Truxtun Donor Center on Saturday from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm featuring tailgating food for donors.  Live music is planned and donors can enter to win a tailgate prize package. For more information about the Kern County’s Battle of The Bay blood or to make an appointment call us at 661-616-2505 or make an appointment online.

 

 Battle of the Bay Version 2

Give Twice this Summer!

2013 Twice is Nice1There is still time to pledge to take the Twice as Nice Pledge 2 Give this summer. Travel, outdoor activities, and other summertime distractions contribute to a nationwide decrease in blood donations this time of year. The goal of the Twice as Nice Campaign is to encourage people to Pledge 2 Give twice between May 1 and September 30 each year so we can keep our blood supply steady to meet patient needs throughout the season. Donors who keep their two donation pledge will be entered into a drawing to win a fabulous computer. To qualify, you must give once by August 5 then again by September 30. Last year donors noticed you could get three donations in during the time, so this year we are recognize those who are Thrice as Nice! Donors who give three times this summer, will have two chances to win the computer. The first donation had to be made between May 1 to June 10.

So pledge today using the form below:

2nd Annual Scoliosis Strong Blood Drive

Kylee donating with her mom Nikki supporting her.

Kylee donating and her mom Nikki supporting her.

On June 30, 2014, Kylee Cross and her friends, family and supporters will be hosting the 2nd Annual Scoliosis Strong Blood Drive at the Bolthouse Donor Center from 4-7 pm. June is also National Scoliosis Awareness Month. National Scoliosis Awareness Month unites scoliosis patients, families, physicians, clinicians, institutions and related businesses in a collaborative partnership to create a positive public awareness, education, and advocacy campaign through a grassroots network of local activities, events and media impressions throughout the year. This blood drive will help Scoliosis Strong in raising awareness about scoliosis.

Kylee Cross was only 12 years old and she needed to do two autologous donations before her scoliosis surgery in May 2013. Read more of Kylee’s story here. This means she needed to donate two pints of her own blood to use during her surgery in case it was needed. Due to her scoliosis, Kylee Cross started a non-profit organization called Scoliosis Strong,”with this organization I hope to bring awareness to the community and comfort to those with scoliosis,” explained Kylee. Scoliosis Strong hosted two blood drives last year in April and in May. Kylee’s blood drives for Scoliosis Strong brought in 66 donations, 18 of those were first time donors and on May 15, 2013, Kylee had her scoliosis surgery, which was a success!

Kylee the night before her scoliosis surgery and the day after.

Kylee the night before her scoliosis surgery and the day after.

“Our annual blood drive with Houchin Blood Bank is important to me because it will help raise awareness for scoliosis and the need for blood donations in our community. But most importantly, donating blood and participating in the blood drive shows that people care. By giving blood, people can help provide care to those in need, they can also give another person a chance to live, by helping someone that has recently gone through surgery or has been in an accident”, says Kylee. For more information, or to sign up for the blood drive contact Nikki Cross 661-979-5190 or call 661-616-2505.

Exciting New Program for Our AB Donors!

plasma

We produce plasma from each whole blood donation and through automated donation.

AB donors are seldom called to donate because only 3% of the population has that blood type. But that is changing in April 2014, when we begin collecting plasma only from qualified AB donors to meet the huge need for this blood product.

Because AB plasma is universally accepted by patients of all blood types, it is often the only type doctors order for fragile newborns.  It is also in high demand for our military, and in trauma situations so dire that blood typing is impossible before blood products must be transfused to save lives.

Only volunteer donors can provide plasma for direct transfusion to patients, and Houchin is the only provider of transfusable plasma in Kern County.

photo (97)

Plasma can be stored frozen for up to a year.

This cutting edge program can only be a success with the support of our AB donors, who now have a new reason to give and help even more patients with their life saving gift. Plasma-only donations take significantly less time than a platelet donation, but somewhat longer than a whole blood donation.  Since the plasma removed is replaced 100% with saline, there is no significant fluid loss or reactions that may occur with whole blood and platelet donation. Plasma only donors can give as much as 5 units of plasma in just one visit as often as every 28 days.  Better yet, AB plasma can be frozen for up to a year to be ever-ready to assist patients.

We will be calling AB donors who are likely to be able to save more lives through this new technology.  Or, don’t wait! Give us a call if you are an AB donor who would like to maximize your ability to help others through this new program. Just dial 323-4222 and ask for the TRIMA desk.

Be Inspired by Nature

Wind wolvesWe are partnering with Wind Wolves Preserve for a blood drive on Sunday, April 13th during their 1st Annual Nature Festival. Wind Wolves Preserve staff, guest experts and nature-enthusiasts will be hosting a variety of activities including guided hikes, wildlife and wildflower viewing, preserve tours and more.  Activities are ongoing from 7:00 am to 9:30 pm Saturday, and from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm Sunday. A complete list of available activities can be found here. People donating blood during the month of April can bring their donation slip to Wind Wolves and receive a complimentary two hour shuttle tour of their mid-slope and valley floor habitats. These tours will be offered later in April and May for donors who bring in their April donation slips.  The April donation slip will be good for the donor and one guest. Please contact Courtney Carter (661) 858-1115 for more information on the event, the tour, or to sign up for the blood drive.

This partnership blossomed when Courtney, Administrative Assistant at the Wind Wolves Preserve, became passionate about making a positive impact in her community through Houchin. “I began donating blood when a friend of mine was in an accident a few years ago.  I felt like there was nothing I could do to help her family during their stressful time.  When they let me know that she was receiving blood to make up for the loss of her own supply, I knew that was my chance to help her and others!  I went in to Houchin and donated for the first time.  I haven’t stopped since and have tried to donate every chance I am eligible!  It feels good knowing that you, as just one person, can help so many overcome illness and even death,” says Courtney.

_DSC0406She continues: “I work for The Wildlands Conservancy’s Wind Wolves Preserve, where we help restore and preserve the environment (among other wonderful things we do here and at our 12 preserves).  Knowing what I do about Houchin, and about the organization I work for, it seemed natural for the partnership to blossom!  It just seemed like a good fit. When our first annual Spring Nature Festival was being organized, I presented the idea to our team – and here we go, the beginning of a wonderful partnership!

1484108_609557862460529_88689918_nWind Wolves is  a 95,000 acre nature preserve located in the San Emigdio Mountains 30 miles southwest of Bakersfield. The preserve boasts a great diversity of habitats that include grasslands, scrublands, riparian wetlands, valley and blue oak savannas, and coniferous forests.  Wind Wolves is one out of 12 preserves that is part of The Wildlands Conservancy (TWC), a California nonprofit public benefit corporation dedicated to preserving the beauty and biodiversity of the earth, and providing programs so that children may know the wonder and joy of nature. At more than 145,000 acres, The Wildlands Conservancy’s preserve system is the largest in California. Each year five of these 12 preserves, including Wind Wolves Preserve, host more than 20,000 students in free, award-winning outdoor education programs.

TWC partners with various community leaders and groups to achieve these accomplishments and help instill in the community “a love and respect for California’s wild places that will help us to steward these remarkable and important lands for generations to come.”

 

April 2014 Featured Donor of the Month

photo 3 (14)Well-known for his can do attitude, Tim Kounter is a dedicated blood donor who recently hit his 4 gallon mark. Before reaching this milestone, Tim experienced a few health difficulties. But Tim was determined to become a healthy donor once again.

Tim started donating because he was inspired by Greg Gallion, CEO and President of Houchin Community Blood Bank’s moving speech about the importance of blood donation during an Executives’ Association of Kern County (EAKC) meeting. “I was inspired by hearing members in EAKC talk about their life changing experience through blood donation. And knowing that I am healthy, why not give my lifesaving donation,” explained Tim. Tim had to stop donating for two years because of valley fever, but once he passed his two year mark, he started donating again. “Once you start donating, you can’t stop especially seeing the 10 gallon photos on the wall makes you appreciate how persistent they were to donate.”

Timmy and Jake Kounter

Timmy and Jake Kounter are blood donors thanks to dad Tim’s influence.

Recently, Tim had to put a pause donating again because he underwent a skin cancer treatment. Tim kept coming back to the blood bank to see when he could start donating again. “At first it was only going to be only a two week pause but then it later turned into a 3 month waiting period,” said Tim. Even though the waiting process was long and uncertain, Tim was grateful he was able to donate again and he reach his 4 gallon mark as well. Through all these tribulations, Tim became a true role model for his children as a blood donor, and now they are donors as well.

When Tim is not donating, he enjoys playing tennis with his children and is part of the United States Tennis Association (USTA). Tim encourages others to donate because “people need it and not everyone is eligible to donate, so every time I look at the pre-donation booklet you see the reasons why people can’t donate and this inspires me to continue to give.”

 

 

March 2014 Featured Donor of the Month

IMG_1861Well-known for his enthusiastic personality and giving heart, Bob Foreman is a formidable blood donor. He received his 26 gallon license plate while donating at the Taft community blood drive on February 4, 2014. Bob has been a resident of Taft since 1948 and is well-recognized in his community.  When he received his license plate, all the media from Taft captured the moment!

Bob is admired in Taft because he is known for his compassionate nature and ambitious personality. When Bob was 23, he was drafted to the military and the army required military personnel to donate blood. “I never had the opportunity to donate blood because there weren’t any blood drives in Taft and donating in the military made me realize the need for blood donors,” explained Bob.  When Bob was in Korea, he helped support an orphanage because he witnessed the tribulations of the children that lost their parents during the war, “I witnessed innocent lives suffering and I wanted to help make a positive impact in their lives.”

photo 3 (13)Bob was encouraged to donate again when his boss told him there was a  great need for blood in Kern County. Without skipping a heartbeat, he went to the blood bank to donate. Now, Bob is a well-known advocate for the blood bank. Every morning at 5 am, he stops by Foster’s Donuts in Taft, to converse with locals meet new people. He loves to discuss the need for blood donations. “I wish more people donated blood because it is always needed.  That is why any opportunity I get, I encourage others to donate.”

photo 2 (25)Bob is a jack of all trades: he enjoys photography, volunteering at the West Kern Oil Museum in Taft, serving on the museum’s Board of Directors and for 30 years he volunteered with Kern County Sheriff Department’s Search and Rescue group. His photographs have been used in the museum’s brochure. Also, he used to be an avid motorcyclist and owned 27 motorcycles. Even though he still has a passion for motorcycling, Bob needed to take a break from riding because he wanted to put more energy into time with his wife, Sharon. “You always risk your life when you’re riding and I wanted to focus my time with my wife.” Bob encourages others to donate, “if you are healthy, why not give it a try? It is an honorable thing to do and there are not enough donors to meet the needs and demands of the community, so now I am going to work on hitting my 27th gallon.”