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.

A Joint Effort to Save Evelyn’s Life

Evelyn LealWe are proud to partner with Kaiser Permanente and San Joaquin Community Hospital in presenting our 9th Annual Community Wide Blood Drive. This drive helps us keep donations coming in at the end of summer, because the need for blood products never takes a vacation, even though our donors do!

Our collaboration goes far beyond this blood drive partnership, as we all share a joint mission of saving lives in our community. Here is the story of one life jointly saved.

Evelyn Leal, is a local Kaiser Permanente patient. She has resided in Bakersfield for three years after relocating from the Bay Area. In her late teens, Evelyn started working in the fields picking cotton in Wasco, CA. The physical nature of working in the fields, as well as positions in retail and manufacturing, has taken a toll on her body.

Evelyn suffered from extreme knee pain, she says: “I went in to see my local doctor at Kaiser for a regular checkup and learned I was going to need knee surgery”. Evelyn underwent a successful knee replacement surgery at San Joaquin Community Hospital in early July 2015. However, after surgery, her doctor said she had lost a lot of blood, resulting in the need for a blood transfusion. So it was recommended she get two units of blood to help build up her hematocrit levels. The transfusion was also warranted by Evelyn’s health history of struggling with anemia.

After receiving her blood transfusion, Evelyn is now in full recovery, and she has been attending physical therapy three times a week. According to Evelyn: “I am thankful to know that there are available blood products for patients like me. I am forever grateful for the blood donors that extended my life”.

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.

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.

Special Recognition for Our Work

Our Quality Assurance staff shows our AABB Accreditation Notice.  Pictured are  Cathy Hanson, Doug Palla, and Cyndi Tidwell-Meadors.

Our Quality Assurance staff members show our AABB Accreditation notice. Pictured are Cathy Hanson, Doug Palla, and Cyndi Tidwell-Meadors.

Houchin Community Blood Bank has received accreditation from AABB for a new two-year term. The AABB accreditation program is completely voluntary and verifies that our blood bank meets or exceeds the standards set by this non-profit international organization.

The mission of AABB is “advancing transfusion and cellular therapies worldwide”. Standards created by AABB are based on exceptional medical practices, scientific data, and are aligned with US Food and Drug Administration regulations. Blood centers are not required to be AABB accredited, but Houchin Community Blood Bank chooses to be a part of AABB, to ensure we are providing the safest and most advanced blood banking procedures for our donors and patients.

photo 2 (14)According to the congratulatory letter on July 17, 2015 from AABB to Greg Gallion, President and CEO, “Houchin Community Blood Bank’s participation in the AABB accreditation program represents a strong commitment to quality outcomes and patient safety and commitment to a rigorous program based on a quality systems approach.  The assessment process is specifically designed to encourage innovation and ongoing quality improvement.  Your team and leadership is commended in committing to this path”.

AABB-LOGOnotag-REG__Converted__400x400According to Greg Gallion, “By achieving AABB Accreditation, Houchin Community Blood Bank wants their donors and patients to know how essential they are to our success. We strive to provide top quality blood products to the families of Kern County, utilizing the most advanced methods that make the time of our donors in the chair more enjoyable. Our staff cares about YOU”.

Congratulations to all the staff members who participated in the two-day assessment visit in June 2015, and to every staff member who works daily to ensure our efforts are of the highest quality.


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.

Take a Bite Out of Shark Week

sharksSharks are out for blood and so are we, from July 6 to 11, 2015 during the Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week. During Shark Week, donors can enter to win a trip to Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific featuring Shark Lagoon and a night on the Queen Mary. Donors will also receive an awesome free “Lifeguard” themed t-shirt.

The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California is dedicated to instilling wonder, respect, and preservation for the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants and ecosystems. It is home to 11,000 animals in over 50 exhibits. Shark Lagoon is a 10,000 square foot exhibit featuring more than 150 sharks, some you can touch, and some you can’t!

RMS_Queen_Mary_2_in_Trondheim_2007The Queen Mary is rich with history dating back into the Great Depression. She exemplifies elegance and luxury. Since taking her maiden voyage on May 27, 1936, the Queen Mary set a new benchmark in transatlantic travel. During WWII, the Queen Mary made the transition from elegant cruise ship to the largest and fastest troopship. Following the war, she returned to her former glory, but with the increase in popularity of air travel, the Queen Mary made her final transition to what we know her as today: a floating hotel, attraction and event/wedding venue, home to three world class restaurants,  and an icon in Southern California.

So dive in to one of our donor centers or mobile blood drives from July 6 to the 11 to enter to win this unforgettable Long Beach getaway. Walk-ins are welcome, but an appointment is much appreciated, so please click here to request one today.

July Is Rusty’s Pizza Month!

Rusty's GirlRusty’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!


9th Community Wide Blood Drive

Photo0029FourBySixThe 9th Annual Community Wide Blood Drive takes place from Monday, July 27 to Sunday, August 9, 2015 to make sure there is enough blood for our patients during the last month of summer vacation. Special thanks to our presenting sponsors San Joaquin Community Hospital and Kaiser Permanente, donors at the blood bank and on all mobiles will be entered to win a Grand Prize Disney Vacation, as well as a $100 COOL Cash daily giveaway during the drive!

SJCH & KP stack tagAccording to Jimmy Phillips, Executive Director Marketing/Communications, San Joaquin Community Hospital: “There is nothing more essential to life than the blood that flows through each of our bodies. The donors who generously give of themselves so that others may live is one of the most generous and selfless gifts possible. San Joaquin Community Hospital is proud to support Houchin Blood Bank on the annual Community Wide Blood Drive and we encourage everyone to get involved.”

“As a healthcare provider, Kaiser Permanente recognizes the importance of having an adequate blood supply in our community.  We are excited to sponsor the Community Wide Blood Drive and would like to thank all the donors who unselfishly give and encourage others to donate to help those that might need a gift of life,” says Eva Ramirez, Senior Communications Specialist, Kaiser Permanente.

For more information or to make an appointment click here or call 661-616-2505. A toll-free number is also available: 877-364-5844. 

Joy Invina, Houchin’s Community Account Manger with Kiyoshi Tomono, Anchor of 17 News at Sunrise .

The Community wide Blood Drive kicked off on Monday, July 27 with a 13 hour mobile drive sponsored by KGET 17 from 5 am to 6 pm at its new “Compassion Corner” location at 20th and L Street, just south of the KGET Studios. We are pleased to report that we registered 188 donors resulting in 145 actual units of blood, plus and we had 69 brand new donors! The ongoing commitment of the television station to the event received the national Media Partner of the Year Award in 2014 from America’s Blood Centers.