Blood Donors Fight Cancer

erase-cancerMore cancer treatments are becoming available locally, so it’s extremely important that the blood products necessary to support patients undergoing those treatments are readily available.  We hope everyone donating in October will take a minute to visit with our staff about automated donation on our Trima machines, and look into whether your platelet count and veins make you suitable for it.

Automated donation is the only way we can collect platelets for patient transfusion. Platelet use for patient care is up 3 fold for local cancer patients, so we look forward to discussing automated donation with you this month!

cancer-treatmentCancer patients need not only platelets, but red cells and plasma as well. According to an article in the January 2015 issue of Cancer Control entitled Transfusion Indications for Patients with Cancer, blood cancers like leukemia (hematological malignancies) use around 34% of the red blood cell supply, and anemia may occur in 90% of patients during chemotherapy.

According to the Mayo Clinic, low blood cell counts can lead to very serious complications during cancer treatments, which may delay ongoing treatments. The most-serious complications of low blood cell counts include infections, anemia, and bleeding. Red blood cells, plasma and platelets may be needed to help the cancer patient overcome these complications so that cancer fighting treatments can continue.

Cancer-related causes of low blood cell counts include:

  • Chemotherapy drugs can damage the bone marrow, the spongy material found in bones that makes blood cells.
  • Radiation therapy to large areas of the body and especially to the large bones that contain the most bone marrow, may cause low levels of red and white blood cells.
  • Cancers of the blood and bone marrow, such as leukemia, grow in the bone marrow and don’t allow normal blood cells to develop.
  • Cancers that spread, or metastasize, because cells have broken off a tumor can end up in the bone marrow and displace other cells there, making it difficult to produce blood cells.

We all know someone who has been through cancer and needed these treatments.  Let’s work together to ensure the platelets, plasma and red cells necessary for the fight against cancer are on the shelf to save lives.

Successful Fair Wristband Drive

The annual Fair Wristband Drive was a great success! The Wristband Drive was sponsored this year by LeBeau-Thelen LLP. This drive continues to be a donor favorite and brought in 289 donations. There were 10 winners a day, receiving a Kern County Fair carnival wristband and admission pass, a $40 value. We thank LeBeau-Thelen LLP and the Great Kern County Fair for their support of blood donation in our community by making this 6th annual event for our donors possible! Here is a list of all our winners:



Rusty’s Pizza Month

Rusty's GirlDid you know October is National Pizza Month? What better way to celebrate than by picking up a coupon for a free individual cheese or pepperoni pizza when you save lives with us this month.

 Rusty’s Pizza is a long time supporter of blood donation in our community. Our friends at Rusty’s provide coupons for a free individual cheese or pepperoni pizza to each donor in the months of January, April, July, and October each year. The coupons are good at any of Rusty’s nine convenient locations.This is an amazing commitment to recognizing our blood donors unmatched in the industry!

Rustys-LogoSince its beginning, Rusty’s has been involved in the community with a strong emphasis on children through school programs and youth organizations. Student blood donors also get the individual pizza coupons at school blood drives all year. We appreciate Rusty’s sense of community and support of blood donation. Thank you Rusty’s Pizza!

BBSI Sponsors Treat

save-livesWe vampires are at it again:  “Ve Vant your blood” in October! Thanks to the Executives’ Association of Kern County (EAKC) there is a drawing for a $500 shopping spree at Home Depot courtesy of Barrett Business Services, Inc., or BBSI. It’s not at all scary to enter to win this great Home Depot gift card. Just donate blood, platelets, or plasma at either of our donor centers or most mobile drives anytime in October. Be sure to fill in an entry blank to get in on this treat drawing!

BBSI has served small and medium-sized businesses in the greater Bakersfield area since 2005, by providing payroll services, as well as human resources, workers compensation, safety and risk management consulting.  According to the company:

“We are providers of Business Management Solutions for small businesses. We deliver expertise, guidance and tactical support that allow owners to run their business more effectively. In order to do that, we operate under a unique business model; we combine the tools-based approach of human resource outsourcing with the knowledge-based approach of professional management consulting to create an integrated management platform. This platform helps our clients leverage their internal resources more effectively to operate with maximum efficiency.”

To learn more or speak with a BBSI professional call 661-377-1060 and ask for Jeff or Patrick.



Zika Testing to Begin


Beginning Thursday, September 15, 2016 we will begin testing all blood donations for the Zika Virus (ZIKV). The safety of our donors and the blood supply they generously provide is always our primary concern.

The ZIKV blood test will be performed along with the 13 other tests each donor’s blood sample undergoes every time they donate.  So, donors will not really notice any change as far as the donation itself goes. However, because this test on the blood sample is still in a clinical study stage, donors will receive an information sheet about the study, and now both 16 and 17 year old donors must bring in a signed parental consent form to be able to donate. This is required parental-consentbecause in California minors under 18 years old cannot consent to participate in clinical trials. Prior to September 15, 17 year olds were able to donate without a parent’s consent, but that is no longer the case. Minor donors will not be able to donate unless they present the proper form provided below. 

The required parental consent forms and educational materials are available here in English and in Spanish. Parents should read the material and send a signed copy in with minors presenting to donate.

Travel to ZIKV affected areas will no longer require a wait period once the testing begins.  Donors whose blood tests positive for ZIKV will be notified with follow-up instructions. If you have any questions regarding ZIKV blood testing, please call 661-323-4222.

En Español:

A partir del viernes 15 de Septiembre de, 2016 se comenzará a probar todas las donaciones de sangre para asegurarse que no provengan con el virus del Zika (ZIKV). La seguridad de nuestros donantes y el suministro de sangre que generosamente ofrecen es siempre nuestra preocupación principal.


El análisis de sangre ZIKV se llevará a cabo junto con las otras 13 pruebas que se le proporcionan a cada muestra de sangre cada vez que donan. Por lo tanto, los donantes realmente no notarán ningún cambio en cuanto a la donación. Sin embargo, debido a que este análisis todavía se encuentra en la fase de pruebas, los donantes recibirán una hoja de información sobre el ensayo clínico en curso en la prueba ZIKV.  Los donantes de 16 y  17 años de edad, ahora tendrán que llevar  un formulario de consentimiento firmado por los padres para poder ser elegibles para donar. Esto se debe al que todavía son menores de 18 años y entonces no pueden dar su propio consentimiento mediante un análisis de sangre que se encuentre en proceso de ensayo clínico. Los menores de edad no podrán donar al menos que presenten el formulario apropiado que se encuentra abajo.

Los nuevos formularios de consentimiento de los padres y los materiales educativos están disponibles aquí en Inglés y en Español.

Las restricciones de viaje asociadas con ZIKV ya no estarán en práctica una vez que comience la prueba. Si tiene alguna pregunta con respecto a las pruebas de sangre ZIKV, por favor llame al 661-323-4222.

Farewell to Sickle Cell Blood Drive

On Saturday, September 10, 2016 Houchin Community Blood Bank will host a blood drive from 8 am to 2 pm at the Bolthouse Donor Center in conjunction with the Hina Patel Foundation for Sickle Cell Disease, to honor Hina Patel, a young woman who lost her life to sickle cell disease. Her story and the registration information for the event can be found at

Sickle Cell disease is the most common genetic disease in the United States. It affects more that 100,000 people in the nation. It originated in Africa, but the disease especially affects people with ancestors from Africa, India, Central and South America, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and Mediterranean nations like Italy, Greece, France and Turkey.

sickle_cellSickle cell disease is a genetically inherited blood disorder that is caused by a mutation in the gene that makes hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the molecule in red blood cells that assists in the transportation of oxygen through the body. This recessive mutation causes red blood cells to become hard, sticky, and “sickle” shaped instead of the normal smooth, round shape. Consequently, blood has difficulty flowing through the capillary system. These misshaped cells form clumps and block blood vessels causing circulation problems leading to severe pain, damage to blood vessels and organs, and in some cases, death. The median life expectancy for men with sickle cell disease is 40 years and for women it is 45 years.

Christina has sickle cell disease and needs blood transfusions provided by our donors regularly.

There is no cure for Sickle Cell disease, but there are treatments. One of the most common treatments is regular blood transfusions, which can help decrease the risks of stroke, damage to major organs, and other severe complications. Since this disease does occur more frequently in people of certain ethnic backgrounds, blood typing for transfusions is very important. When patients receive blood transfusions from donors with the same blood type and antigens, they tend to have a better chance of survival.

Sickle Cell Awareness MonthWe encourage participation in this important educational event, so that more members of our community are aware of the devastating effects of the disease and the need for a diverse donor base. Sickle Cell patients depend on people like you to provide the consistent blood transfusions necessary in their fight to live, so please join us and the Hina Patel Foundation on September 10, 2016 to help bid “Farewell to Sickle Cell” by participating in the fair, the walk/run, or the blood drive at our Bolthouse Donor Center.

9th Annual Fair Wristband Drive

wristbandThanks to our returning sponsor, Le Beau-Thelen LLP, the fair wristband blood drive is back. Giving Blood is the Fairest Thing to Do is the theme of the week, and from Monday, September 12th through Friday, September 16th at the donor centers only, donors can enter to win coupons which are good for a carnival ride wristband, as well as an adult pass to the 100th Anniversary Kern County Fair. The fair runs from September 21st – October 2nd, so be sure to schedule your appointment to give during this drive today! Free adult admission passes to the Fair will be available to all donors while supplies last.

Kern County Fair carnival wristbands are valued at $30 each if purchased at the fair, or $25 in advance. They are good for all rides, all day for any one day at the fair. They do not include admission or parking to the fair and there are height and other restrictions that can limit ride admission. Winners will be announced daily, with 10 winners every day. Winners are required to pick up their prize by September 21st or forfeit their prize.

Le BeLe Beau-Thelen LLP is recognized as one of the most successful civil practice firms in Central California. The firm has a reputation for providing creative and practical legal advice coupled with zealous advocacy. Le Beau Thelen jumped at the opportunity to sponsor such a popular blood drive among Houchin donors, and have shown support in our mission by hosting a number of successful blood drives at their firm. We extend a big thanks to Le Beau Thelen for their support of blood banking in our community by making this 6th annual event for donors possible.

Week of Remembrance 2016

911 AnniversarySeptember 11, 2016 marks the 15th anniversary of tragic loss and sadness for the United States. To honor the memory and sacrifice of the victims and first responders, we set the week prior to September 11 each year as our Week of Remembrance. Since we are closed on Sundays, we will not be collecting blood on September 11 this year, however we encourage participation from September 6 – 10, 2016. Please consider getting started with donation, reconfirming your commitment to donation, or donating in honor of the first responders who serve us all every day. 

People who donate during the week will be entered to win a $100 Target Gift Card sponsored by Alert Disaster Restoration. All donors will receive a free Route 44 soft drink coupon with their donation, complements of Sonic. Every donor on Saturday, September 10, will also receive a 9/11 commemorative pin thanks to the generosity of John Rodgers, Wells Fargo Advisors.  

Blood on shelfSeptember 11, 2001 started off as a normal day at Houchin, but as the attack on our nation began to unfold, a shocked public eager to help lined up to donate blood.  As this scene played out across the nation, more blood was collected than was ultimately needed. Now blood banks stress that the blood on the shelves is what saves lives. People need to commit to give regularly so that a tested and ready supply is available at all times. 

When you think about it, blood donors are part of the first responder team in any emergency requiring blood products.  We never know when blood, platelets or plasma will be needed, so we must stay ready for the call, just like any other first responder.

Girls’ Story Inspires Blood and Platelet Drive

Amanda and AbigailShawna Callahan believes in supporting those fighting cancer, so No One Fights Alone, the organization she and husband Dwayne started after her uncle, Robert McCaslin, was diagnosed with cancer, will provide support to two two young ladies fighting brain tumors, Amanda Broome, on the left, and little Abigail Segundo.

Abigail’s story was recently featured in The Bakersfield Californian, and is available here.

To raise support funds for Abigail and Amanda, the 3rd Annual No One Fights Alone Poker Run will be held Sunday, November 6, 2016. A flyer about the Poker Run can be printed out here. The first Poker Run was organized by family and friends to provide support for Uncle Robert, and proved so successful, that it has been expanded, and offered help to other patients each year since.

Blood products save livesTo raise emotional support and encourage blood and platelet donations for survivors like Abigail and Amanda, a blood drive will be held on Saturday, September 24 from 8 am to 2 pm at the Truxtun Donor Center. In addition, an effort to increase platelet collection in honor of these crusaders will be held at both donor centers all week leading up to the blood drive, and through September 30th. Use the No One Fights Alone Account Code 929 to donate in honor of Abigail and Amanda.

It is crucial that more people become platelet donors to keep up with increased need for this blood product which is needed to aid patients in their fight against terrible diseases like cancer. The need for platelets locally has doubled this year, and many donors we have counted on can no longer give or have moved away.  It is not uncommon for 3 to 5 local hospitals or cancer centers to call for platelets at once. We appreciate the opportunity to draw attention to this growing problem, and hope it will bring in needed new donors. Those who join our Gold Club in September by providing a first time donation of platelets or plasma, will be entered to win a night on the town for two including movie tickets, dinner and dessert. It’s just an extra way to say thanks for giving trima, our automated donation system, a try this month. Cancer, trauma and other patients who receive your golden products will be truly grateful for the gift of life.

High School Blood Drive Challenge Kicks Off!

Bakersfield Christian High School

The 2016 – 2017 High School Blood Drive Challenge is off to a promising start, with energized meetings with our Houchin Ambassadors underway, so students can begin organizing this year’s blood drives.

Unfortunately, we can’t visit ALL the high schools in Kern County as often as we might like, so we encourage high school students to visit our donor centers as well. Donating blood is a great way to earn community service hours and by donating at the donor centers, students can become Gallon Grads that much faster!  We had significant growth in donors crediting high schools over the summer, a time when we always fight lower donation levels. Click here for the chart of the current standings in the challenge.

Burroughs High School

Burroughs High School – Ridgecrest

All pints donated at the donor centers, or any mobile drives, count towards the annual high school challenge so long as the donor credits a participating high school. The count is not limited to students and staff either.  Family members and alumni are welcome to credit their high school of choice too! The school scoring the most pints at the donor centers wins the Extra Mile Award sponsored by Kern Schools Federal Credit Union.  In addition to a beautiful trophy, the ambassadors at the winning school each receive a $50 Visa Gift Card thanks to Kern Schools.

As always, the winning schools will be recognized at a wonderful luncheon in May 2017. So we hope all the schools will “up their game” to try to come out on top!