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.

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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.”

Annual Platelet Dinner Recognizes Top Donors

DSC_0034The annual Platelet Dinner in January 2014 for donors attaining 24 platelet donations and a minimum of three donations in 2013, was an astounding success! Hundreds of platelet donors enjoyed Hodel’s famous buffet, raffle prizes, special themed t-shirts, and snack gifts. The theme this year was “Platelet Donors Take Time To Save Lives,” because what makes platelets donors special is their dedication “in the chair”, spending 45 to 80 minutes to achieve each donation. The snack gifts were compliments of platelet donor Michael Mayo of Frito-Lay, and platelet donor Gary Ketchell who provided pistachios for his fellow donors. TerumoBCT, Inc made a monetary donation and Hawley Air Conditioning provided a special contribution towards the evening’s raffle.

Greg Gallion Speech 2President and CEO Greg Gallion updated the audience on the state of the blood bank and applauded our platelet donors for their significant contributions to our successes. He reported that we are proud of having the lowest “out date rate” in the nation. In 2013 it was 1.7%, compared to 2.2% in 2012. “Out dates are units that expire before they can be used. Such a low rate proves that we continue to effectively manage our community’s platelets.

Joy Invina, Community Development Coordinator, told the story of platelet donor James Goodmon, who was recognized for his can do attitude and long time dedication to the blood bank. James was the January Donor of the Month. 

Kathy and Ken PistoresiThis year we had two speakers, Kathy Pistoresi and Kathy Agapiou. Kathy Pistoresi shared her story as a long time donor, who devoted her life to wellness as a personal fitness expert. She was healthy and never sick a day in her life. But in February 2012 she entered the ER at Memorial Hospital for asthma-like symptoms which turned into Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Kathy explained how she spent 65 days in the ICU fighting for her life and receiving blood and platelets. Kathy invited her husband Ken to speak as well. He was her rock during her journey. Ken expressed how thankful he was to be in a room full of heroes because they gave him another chance to be with his wife.

Kathy Agapiou shared her life story of open heart surgeries followed by a sudden cancer diagnosis. She has received platelets and blood transfusions in her quest for life. Read more about her story here. Below you will find snapshots from this year’s platelet dinner.

For  more information on how you can be invited to the 2014 Platelet dinner in January 2015, please call 661-323-4222 and ask for the Trima Desk.

February 2014 Featured Donor of the Month

DSC_0103Krystal Gonzales is from Lamont, a small town just 9 miles southeast of downtown Bakersfield. She always wanted to make a difference in her little community, even at a young age. Krystal found that opportunity to serve when she learned we were having a mobile blood drive at Arvin High School. “I was only 16 at that time but I was eager to make this life-changing decision of saving someone’s life,” expressed Krystal. She thanks the blood bank for having a vital program like the “Give it Up” High School Challenge, ” because it encourages the youth to make a positive difference in the community.”

Krystal has been a dedicated donor ever since. Although she is only 27 years old, she has achieved 5 gallons. Krystal’s goal is to keep donating until she no longer can. “Achieving a gallon can be comparable to unlocking an achievement in a video game. It takes a lot of dedication and you work hard to reach the next achievement,” explained Krystal. Krystal also encouraged her mom to donate, ” Krystal kept explaining to me how easy the process was , and not only was I proud of her but, I also wanted to support her in this cause,” said Krystal’s mom.

DSC_0105Besides donating, Krystal enjoys painting and drawing cartoons where she is working on her Monster High collection. She also enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She encourages others to donate: “donating blood gives you this euphoric feeling, knowing that the little bit of time it takes you to donate extends a lifetime of happiness to someone receiving your pint of blood.”

Donor of the Month James Goodmon

2013 James Goodmon

Dedicated, humble, understanding and respectful are just few words that many of our Donor Services staff members use to describe platelet donor James Goodmon. James has been donating at Houchin Community Blood Bank since 1972. He has donated 13 gallons of whole blood and remains a devoted platelet donor with 682 donations.

James saw the significance of donating blood when he worked for Mercy Hospital in the operating room, and when he was training to be part of the medical field service during the Vietnam War. “Being able to save someone’s life is a fulfillment in itself,” said James. He was a dedicated blood donor until one of our staff members had asked him if he could donate platelets.

James was one of the first donors to donate platelets at the blood bank. “The machines back then were different and platelet donors had both of their arms hooked which made the donation process a little more difficult,” explained James. During that time he had trouble donating because it was difficult to find the vein in his right arm, which caused James to put his platelet donations on hold. However, he continued to donate whole blood and plasma. “People go through obstacles, but you always have to find a way to keep going,” expressed James.

Fast forward to our improved TRIMA machines, and James was enthusiastic to donate platelets again, “with only a 5 day shelf life, there is always a need for platelets and I was more than eager to donate again,” said James.

James GoodmonJames has also encouraged his family to become donors. For example, his brother Richard has donated 270 platelets. “You never know when someone in your life may need it,” expressed James. This year, on Christmas Eve, his sister used 2 units of blood and James was thankful that a donor saved his sister’s life.

Besides donating, James enjoys spending time with his family, traveling to the coast and maintaining his 1956 Chevy 210 car. James also looks forward to renewing his vows with his wife every 10 years and they have been married for 45 years. James encourages others to donate, “the best part of being a donor is when you run into people who needed a lifesaving product and they notice your Houchin apparel or your license plate and they simply tell you, ‘thank you.’”

December 2013 Featured Donor of the Month

photo (68)Don Fowler has a strong conviction for doing community service. He has been an active volunteer in our community for countless years helping people in many different ways, but Don’s most dedicated service is giving the gift of life every 56 days.

Don’s first experience with blood donation was in the Marine Corps when he was 19 years old. “There is no substitute for blood and being part of the military you experience the need and this pushes you to become a volunteer blood donor,” explained Don. Then Don began donating at Houchin Community Blood Bank’s F Street location when his close friend who was a volunteer at the blood bank encouraged him to donate. Don believed that volunteering in his community was one of his top priorities and he wanted to instill the importance of community service with his family, friends and co-workers. Don also knew the importance of donating on a regular basis because his blood type is O-. “It is important to know your blood type because not all blood types are needed at all times but knowing I am the universal blood donor, I know I am needed to come in every 56 days.”

Donating blood became a regular routine in Don’s life, “as you walk into the blood bank you can see the top donors reaching their next milestone and I made it a goal to become one of the top leaders at Houchin,” expressed Don. On April 4, 2013, he reached is 24 gallon milestone and Don will continue to donate, “I want to reach my highest potential and as long as I am healthy then I can reach it.”

photo (65)Besides being an avid blood donor, Don is part of the Westchester Kiwanis and he is the chairman of the Blood Drive Committee in Kiwanis. He also enjoys traveling in his RV with his family. Don also owns a wood working shop and he enjoys creating toys for kids. Don encourages others to donate, especially high school students: “its great community service and Houchin has a wonderful high school program that is raising the next generation of dedicated donors to sustain the community’s blood supply.”

 

Annual Destination for Your Donation

hawaii-vacationsThe holiday season is built on traditions so thanks to our sponsor, Paramount Farms, we are again able to offer our annual Destination for Your Donation Blood Drive beginning November 21 through November 30, one lucky donor can be relaxing on the beaches of Hawaii. The Destination for your Donation is a trip for two to Hawaii, which can be customized at a local travel agent and taken any time during the next year. To kick-off this blood drive this year, on Thursday, November 21 from 5-8 pm at our Truxtun Donor Center, donors will enjoy the flavors of the Hawaiian Islands.

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Jane Smith was the lucky donor who won the Destination for your Donation trip to Hawaii last year.

On long weekends, especially holiday weekends, there is a decrease in donors that are coming in the door to donate blood  and platelets. Long holiday weekends pose an extra challenge when many donors are traveling to be with family and friends. Winter illnesses among regular donors just add to the difficulty. Winter holidays are a time when blood supply decreases while emergency needs remain the same. The blood that comes in Thanksgiving week not only can help keep supplies up for Thanksgiving holiday travelers, accidents, and illnesses, but will also help carry us through the December holidays.

Paramount Farm’s support allows us to offer a really attractive incentive to encourage donations during this crucial week. Not only are trip drawings fun for established donors, they can help new donors finally make the decision to come on in and donate.  We hope Hawaii beckoning will in increase the number of new donors that decide to act on their desire to donate this year.

November Featured Donor of the Month

photo 4 (7)Fred Twisselman is a well-known donor at the blood bank. Even when he is not donating, he stops by and greets our staff because to Fred, Houchin Community Blood Bank is his second home. Fred is a dedicated donor who has donated over 21 gallons of whole blood, but in July 2012 he thought he had reached his last gallon achievement.

For three months, Fred was confined at the hospital for respiratory problems which made him weak. “The first thing that came through my mind is not being able to donate,” explained Fred. Fred began donating when he was 18 years old because his father had cancer. When his father passed away, Fred continued to donate in his memory and every time there was a need whether for friends, family,or even strangers, Fred would be one of the first donors lined up to donate. Determined to improve his health and get back to donating, Fred was able to meet that goal on July 2, 2013. Knowing that he was making a difference through his donations, helped Fred find the strength to build his health back. “It’s your body’s job to donate blood because, when you give a pint you make a pint and I was not ready to retire yet.”

Fred wanted to create a timeless piece out of his Houchin t-shirts so, he had  his Aunt Lucille create a quilt out  of 26 Houchin t-shirts.

Fred wanted to showcase his Houchin t-shirts so he had his Aunt Lucille create a quilt out of 26 Houchin t-shirts.

When Fred is not donating, he enjoys attending car shows and he owns a 1929 Ford Model A and a 1949 Ford F100. Fred also enjoys playing Santa Claus at Mt. Vernon Elementary during the holidays. “When I was in the hospital, I received three bags of get well cards from the children.  Like being a blood donor, I was making a difference in their lives”, Fred says. Fred is a strong advocate for blood donation and he often calls KUZZ to help promote specific blood drives and stress the importance of blood donation. Fred encourages others to donate, “saving a life is priceless and being a donor is valuable.”