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.


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!”



April Prize Celebrates Spring

We are celebrating spring in April with an Executives Association of Kern County (EAKC) Monthly Prize drawing that could truly make you a family favorite. All, this month, donors will automatically be entered to win a fabulous floral arrangement by Log Cabin Florist and great night out at Cafe Med, with a total value of $500. The winner can have their Mother’s Day shopping done early, celebrate some other upcoming special event, or even use it to get out of the dog house!

Established in 1938,  Log-Cabin-logo-v1-300x158Log Cabin Florist  has been voted “Bakersfield’s Best Florist” for more than 18 years. Because it is a Real Local Florist, customers can send a personalized greeting card by uploading their own photo and writing, drawing or doodling on it, and have it delivered with a flower order the same day! With its 100% satisfaction guarantee, family owned Log Cabin Florist has been serving generations with each of life’s events.  From new baby bouquets to prom flowers, wedding days to funeral services, customers can rest assured they will get the best service and flowers in the business.The shop also offers attractive and long-lasting plants, beautiful pots and vases, and accessories and balloons that can make any occasion special, so plan a visit!

60264-logo-newOffering the finest cuisine from around the globe, an award-winning wine list, and an elegant atmosphere, Cafe Med has become a staple in fine dining. Cafe Med has foods ranging from Italian to Mediterranean with an extensive wine list that will cater to any taste. With a welcoming atmosphere and great service, you are sure to find something on the menu that will keep you coming back. Cafe Med also has a deli department, unique gifts and wines by the bottle, a fantastic happy hour and reasonably priced weeknight dinners-to-go for the family. Stop by sometime to grab a special bottle of wine or a hostess gift.

We thank these wonderful EAKC members for sponsoring the April gift for our donors!

Donate Life Day Honors Brayden’s Brave Heart

Brayden waits for a new heart.

Brayden waits for a new heart.

April is National Donate Life Month, encouraging organ donation, so JJ’s Legacy is joining us to co-sponsor Donate Life Day on Saturday, April 18 from 9 -1 pm at the Bolthouse Donor Center, 11515 Bolthouse Drive in Bakersfield. The day will feature information and activities on organ donation, organ and tissue transplants, and the need for blood products to support transplant patients.  JJ’s Legacy has provided an iPad Mini for a Donate Life Month drawing prize to encourage donation, and refreshments will be served.

Brayden has a good day.

Brayden dreams of playing like other children.

The day will honor 7-year-old Brayden Eidenshink, a local boy who has been waiting more than 220 days for a heart transplant. Brayden and his family have sponsored blood drives with us in the past, in recognition of all the blood he needed with prior surgeries. He has been on IVIG to help prepare his body for a transplant, and that medicine is made from plasma. Now, with his urgent need for a heart transplant, we want to show Brayden and his family that we are pulling for them all the way as he awaits his new heart.  You can learn more about this family’s journey on Facebook at Brayden’s Brave Heart. Donations can be made at any time to honor Brayden using Account Code 616.

If he is well enough to attend the event, Brayden and his mom, Brenda, will stop by to meet his friends.  Brayden’s Brave Heart has more than 2,200 friends on Facebook and we hope you will become one as well so you can follow his progress. The public is encouraged to attend Donate Life Day and sign a banner of hope and good wishes for Brayden as he continues his journey to a new heart.

PrintIt is particularly poignant that our Donate Life Day co-sponsor, JJ’s Legacy, is named for Jeffery Johns, a young man who tragically lost his life, but was able to serve others through organ donation. “His young and strong heart will continue to beat” through the organization, as well as the patient who received his heart.  We hope someone else will be as kind as Jeffery’s parents were in the face of extreme tragedy, so that Brayden gets his new heart.

Pink DotOn Donate Life Day, the public will be able to sign up for a Pink Dot on their license signifying intention to be an organ donor; donate blood, platelets and plasma; and join the bone marrow registry.  Members of the following organizations will be on hand with informational booths: JJ’s Legacy, American Heart Association, San Joaquin Community Hospital’s Grossman Burn Center, Advanced Center for Eyecare, National Kidney Foundation , Suggs Memorial Renal Fund, and Hina Patel Foundation. Transplant patients will be available to meet donors and the general public.

TheWish_logo_rgb_tag1We will also show the short film The Wish: A story of Hope, Faith & Generosity, at 9am, 10am, 11am and noon on Donate Life Day. This 45 minute film from Donate Life America tells the story of one woman’s difficult wait for a kidney transplant.  The film explores the dire situation for Black and Hispanic patients who need transplants because they are less likely to find a match due to a lack of donated organs coming from those communities.   A trailer from the film is available at the link.

We hope you will join us for this day honoring a special little boy waiting for his new heart.


He Helped 50 and Saved 5 People

Jeffery JohnsJeffrey Johns slipped away surrounded by family and friends in the early morning hours on Sunday, March 1, 2009, in the trauma center at Kern Medical Center.  He died from injuries suffered in a tragic accident a few hours earlier. Jeff was a vibrant young man who will always be in the thoughts and prayers of all who knew him.  Because his parents chose organ donation, so that part of Jeff would live on through others, 5 lives were saved by organ transplants, and 50 more were healed through tissue donation.

Jeff was born in Bakersfield, on July 29, 1981 to Lori and Tom Johns. He attended Norris Elementary and Middle School, and graduated from Garces Memorial High School in 1999. He was a gifted athlete, playing both baseball and football. He earned MVP honors as a quarterback. He briefly attended college, but returned to home to Bakersfield, entering the real estate appraisal business with his father. Jeff then became a successful loan officer for Countrywide Mortgage. He enjoyed golf, snowboarding, and hanging out with friends, and was an avid pro and college football fan.

Although Jeff’s family had never talked about organ and tissue donation in the past, according to his mother, “it felt like the right thing to do; Jeffrey was a giving person and if he knew that he could save someone else’s life he would have done it in a heartbeat.”

Transplant operationJeff’s heart saved Carl, a 64 year-old married man who had been able to return to work as an actor after his transplant. His right kidney allowed Jackie, a young girl to live without grueling dialysis treatments and lead a normal high school life. Cornea tissue transplants provided sight to two people, and Jeff’s left kidney, liver, and both lungs also gave others the gift of life!

In memory of Jeff’s gifts, JJ’s Legacy was founded by his mother. According to Lori Malkin: ” As a donor mother, I was inspired by the amazing legacy my son Jeffrey “JJ” Johns left after his passing. It became my passion to inspire and educate my community about the importance of organ and tissue donation. I started JJ’s Legacy in 2009 to honor Jeffrey, and it has grown to be so much more than I ever imagined! Today, JJ’s Legacy is educating and inspiring our community to become registered organ and tissue donors and honoring donor families and recipients in Kern County.”

JJ’s Legacy maintains a small Donate Life room in the Bolthouse Donor Center.  Stop in to visit it at any time to learn more about organ donation and the Pink Dot program on the California Driver’s License.  Or, visit JJ’s Legacy booth at our Donate Life Day, on April 18 from 9am-1pm at the Bolthouse Donor Center.  JJ’s Legacy is sponsoring a National Donate Life Month prize for April: an iPad Mini.  All donors will automatically be entered to win this prize.