Houchin Miracle: Christina Jackson

Christina Jackson

Christina Jackson with her mother, Stephanie Jackson.

Christina Jackson has defeated the odds against her for 27 years. At the age of 1, Christina became ill and had severe pain throughout her body. At first, doctors thought she had pneumonia however, tests and her symptoms indicated she had sickle cell anemia. Doctors told her multiple times she wouldn’t survive, she wouldn’t be able to live a normal life, nor have a family of her own, but she continues to prove them wrong. Watch our latest Houchin Miracle video at the bottom of this story to find out how in her own words.

Sickle CellsSickle cell disease is inherited. It causes red blood cells to form an abnormal crescent shape. It is estimated that sickle cell disease affects as many as 100,000 people in the U.S. Many of these patients face a lifetime of blood transfusions to help reduce the risk of stroke, damage to major organs and other complications that can arise as a result of sickle cell disease.

Christina’s well-being is dependent on blood products. Ever since her diagnosis, and depending on her crisis, Christina receives blood transfusions every 2 weeks. Each session, Christina  receives at least 2 units of blood. Christina estimates she has received at least 1,000 units of blood over the span of 26 years.

Fullscreen capture 832015 43419 PMThere is never a moment where Christina is not in pain. Just last year, Christina suffered a severe crisis where her spleen was swollen and doctors compared it to be the size of a newborn baby. She received a total of 7 blood transfusions and 8 units of platelets. She was confined to a bed at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital for 40 days. Christina’s complications don’t stop there. Due to the amount of blood transfusions she receives on a regular basis, her liver can grow as a result of too much iron. This reaction occurred five times just last year. Christina takes about 20 different types of medication on top of her bi-weekly blood transfusions to help her survive.

Christina and Aaron

Christina with her son, Aaron.

Christina is happy to report she has a healthy, active 6-year-old boy named Aaron. Doctors declared Aaron a miracle baby because Christina was told she could not have children, and if she did, there was a possibility of birth defects. Even while in tremendous pain, and while receiving blood transfusions, Christina kept fighting for not only her life, but her son’s life as well. Although Aaron was born prematurely, he is doing just fine!

Christina volunteers as a teacher at her church, the Greater Bakersfield Ministry. She also works with Bhavana Patel, President and Chairman of the Board of the HIna Patel Foundation for Sickle Cell Disease, to brainstorm ideas on how to increase awareness in Kern County about sickle cell disease. Bhavana lost her daughter, Hina, 5 years ago to the disease she was diagnosed with as an infant. Christina is thankful to blood donors for keeping her alive and calls them her blessing in disguise. She plans to attend the Hina Patel Foundation Walk Run on September 12 to support sickle cell awareness thanks to the transfusions she receives from our donors.

Special Blood Drives In August

As the last days of summer roll in, the need for blood donations continues. Please join us at one of the following special blood drives to have a blast giving the gift of life and scoring great prizes and freebies.

milan-combo-logo-bpgSaturday, August 15th: Take a spa day and join us at Milan Institute of Cosmetology on 2822 F Street, downtown. From 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, donors will have the opportunity enjoy a number of prizes and goodies. All donors will receive a free chair massage, 50% off one student salon service, free food, Rosemarys_Picture_500and a free t-shirt. Donors can also enter to win 4 park hopper tickets to Disneyland, thanks to Kern School Federal Credit Union, Kern-Schools-Logo-EPSand a Rosemary’s Creamery Package. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to save lives and enjoy a relaxing spa day too!

BJs-Restaurant-LogoSaturday, August 22nd: Get your Pizookie on! BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse will be hosting a mobile drive at its Bakersfield location, 10750 Stockdale Highway from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm. At the mobile drive, or at either donor center from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm, donors will receive a coupon for BJ’s Famous Pizookie dessert. These coupons are always a favorite of our donors and believe the opportunity to save lives is all the sweeter with a special treat!

Sonic-logoFriday, August 28th: Stop by for a free Sonic Route 44 Big Drink, car show, and blood drive! Join us at Sonic on 1227 Olive Drive from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm to give the gift of life. Donors at this mobile drive will receive a coupon for a Route 44 Big Drink, a pass to the Kern County Fair, and a summer t-shirt. Enjoy an evening at the Sonic Car Show and save a life in the process.

HomeStoreLogoSaturday, August 29th: Ashley Furniture HomeStore will host another successful drive at their store just east of Calloway on Rosedale Highway from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and at both our donor centers from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. Donors will receive a pass to the LogoKern County Fair, a free Ashley Sleep Contour Pillow and a 25% off coupon for merchandise at the Ashley Furniture Homestore! At the mobile drive only, donors will be able to enjoy sweet treats compliments of KK & Bubba’s Ice Cream Truck!

Share Your Special Day With Us

11667492_10153122998099582_491675435040520108_nDuring the month of July, we hosted a number of special socials organized by our dedicated donors.

On July 11, Jessica Ricker celebrated her 30th Birthday at our Bolthouse donor center. Although she was celebrating a milestone birthday, Jessica had one goal: to collect 30 units of blood in honor of her big 3-0. Jessica was encouraged to donate by her aunt Kathy Steward, a dedicated blood donor.

“I can think of more people who have had family 11222250_10153122998154582_1644127972693345109_nmembers impacted by blood donation than people who have not,” said Jessica.  Although Jessica did not reach her goal of 30, the celebration was a great success, with 23 donors registered on her birthday, resulting in 19 donations. Ten of those were first time donors! Jessica later told us a great story: “My Dad was a first time donor and he shared with me that on his way over from his home in Taft, a friend called him and told him she would be needing a blood transfusion today. You just never know who will be impacted.”

11753666_10153134818064582_315537432200643810_nThe following week, Bolthouse donor center hosted a much different kind of event. On July 17, Ralph Celedon would have turned 70 years old, but just nine months earlier Ralph passed away from multiple myeloma. During his four year battle, Ralph had received a number of platelets and blood transfusions.

In memory of his birthday, Ralph’s daughter, Carla Wilson, organized a blood drive to thank all the donors that helped extend Ralph’s life. A large number of Ralph’s friends, family members, and supporters attended his memorial blood drive. During the event, 34 donors were registered, resulting in 28 pints of life, with 4 first time donors! It is important for blood donors to realize that their donations are not only helping patients, but bringing hope to their friends and family, who stand alongside their loved ones as they battle for life.

If you would like to hold a special event with us, such as a memorial or birthday celebration, feel free to contact our community development department at 661-616-2500.

Featured August Donor of the Month

FullSizeRender (7)Blood products are a lifeline for many people needing long-term treatments and in emergencies. Hubert Rabanal can relate to this statement. Blood products helped his son, Zachary, beat cancer. That day would not have been possible without the aid of selfless donors according to Hubert.

20141025_220413 (1)

Hubert, his wife, Janet, daughter, Taylor and son, Zachary.

Hubert and his family moved from Hawaii to Delano in the 1960s.  He met his wife, Janet, in Delano, and they raised their son, Zachary, and ,daughter Taylor there. Twenty years ago, Hubert and Janet received the news no parents ever want to hear. They were told 8 year old Zachary had Leukemia. Upon hearing the devastating news, Hubert’s first reaction was complete shock, “so many emotions were going through my mind, but I knew I had to stay strong for my family.” Hubert and his family were in and out of Valley Children’s Hospital in Fresno. “When I was working at the Delano Community Correctional Facility, my coworkers donated time for me so I could be with my family.  This act of kindness, made me want to pay it forward as well,” Hubert expressed. So, he started donating blood with us.

He wanted to give back to the community in hopes to save lives, like others had done for his son. Three and half years after his Leukemia diagnosis, Zachary beat cancer! Hubert continues to be an avid donor and donates at our community blood drives at Delano Regional Medical Center. On July 23rd, Hubert hit his 7 gallon milestone!

11014907_10153147514599582_8183303519186336590_oBesides donating blood, Hubert enjoys traveling and spending time with his family. One of his favorite family pastimes is going to Disneyland. Hubert encourages others to donate: “this simple act of kindness makes a huge difference in someone’s life. You never know who might need it, so give the gift of life that keeps on giving.”

Annual Pint for Pass is Back

Picture2The Kern County Fair will partner with us for a fourth annual Pint for Pass Blood Drive, from August 17 to September 12, 2015. Donors at the donor centers AND mobile drives will be able to enjoy FREE adult admission passes to the “Best in the West” Kern County Fair by simply rolling up a sleeve and donating a pint of blood. Donors can also enter to win weekly two-packs, and a grand prize four-pack, to the Fair.  Fair packs include parking, admission and ride wristbands.

86097760.bzHGhaalThe Great Kern County Fair runs from September 23 to October 4 in 2015.  As always, it will feature outstanding entertainment, fabulous food, thrilling rides, fascinating exhibits, and fun for the entire family. “This partnership is natural, because of the rich history and deep roots of both organizations in Kern County, ” said Greg Gallion, President and CEO of the blood bank. “ Mike Olcott, CEO of the Great Kern County Fair reports: “Partnering with the Houchin Community Blood Bank on the Pint for a Pass Blood Drive has been a tremendous success for the fair in order to help the community and to fill the shelves with much needed blood supplies”.

Fair passes have been a successful way to attract donors during a time when the need is at its greatest. “Everyone loves the Great Kern County Fair, so we are thrilled to be able to offer our donors a free pass again this year. The passes really helped us motivate new and repeat donors the past three years at a time when back to school activities are pulling donors in other directions. We are sure this year’s Pint for a Pass Blood Drive will be just as successful”, says Carola Enriquez, Director of Community Development at Houchin.

Back-2-School Cash

Summer vacation is winding down and the kids are headed back to school. With the back toschool-supplies-488381_1920 school list growing, wouldn’t it be nice to have some extra cash in your pocket? The August  Executives’ Association of Kern County monthly drawing is $500 in Back-2-School Cash sponsored by member Kern Computer Corporation! Just think what you could do with that kind of cash, like have a spree at the mall or outfit a dorm room.  Or, you could use the money for some Labor Day weekend fun, or a thank-goodness-they-are-back-in school day all to yourself! Be sure to donate during the month of August to enter to win this great prize.

KCClogo484stackedKern Computer Corporation has been in business for 33 years, catering to the computer needs of a select clientele. Services include computer hardware consultation and support. networking and repair. Kern Computer Corporation has been a proud member of the Executives’ Association of Kern County for decades, and is proud to give back to the community through this donation supporting the volunteer blood donors of Kern County.

Summer Pledge Drive

The annual “Twice as Nice Pledge 2 Give” has a new name and face! This year we are introducing the Summer Pledge Drive. To simplify the pledge and prize drawings, donors will get one entry for each donation between May 1 and September 30, 2015.  A blood donor can donate three times during that period, and a platelet or plasma donor could get in many more entries.  All you need to get started is to pledge online here.

Instead of just one prize at the end of the drive, there will be numerous prize drawings. We will track donations for all those who have pledged and conduct prize drawings on June 5th, August 5th, and September 30th. How many entries will you have for these fine prizes?

June 5th Prize Drawings

  1. Stanley Black And Decker: Tool Package
  2. Angels VIP Package: 4 Tickets Behind Home Plate to the July 21st Game and an Angels Swag Bag! Compliments of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Winner: Micheal Leathers

August 5th Prize Drawings

  1. Stanley Black And Decker: Tool Package
  2. Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino Gambler’s Get-a-way: One night stay, dinner and spending cash.

September 30th Prize Drawings

  1. River Escape to Harrah’s Laughlin Casino and Hotel – three day/two night stay plus spending cash.  Enjoy the Colorado River beach, pools, and entertainment. The hotel features a Guy Fieri restaurant, an upscale steak house, and beach buffet.
  2. Lenovo 15.6″ Laptop G50, HDD AMD Radeon R5 Series, with 4GB Memory, 500GB,  and Windows 8.1

Harrahs Laughlin