News from Houchin

Spread the word! This year we anticipate a number of exciting changes.

Effective February 2, 2018, a person receiving a tattoo in a licensed facility, in a regulated state like California, can donate just seven days after the tattoo.  The previous one year wait period has kept many people from donating, and we look forward to seeing those donors back in and saving lives. If you have been deferred for tattoos in the past, you may now be eligible to give.

We will be rolling out a new interactive donor portal over the next few months as well.  This will allow donors to make online appointments and search for mobile drives easily via an interactive map to learn when we will be near them throughout Kern County.

The new portal will also allow donors to check their health records, and find out when they are eligible to donate again.  This new access will allow donors to access information after hours or via mobile phone.  Available open time slots for mobile drives, as well as trima and whole blood appointments will be available so that we can better serve donors in a timely manner. Be sure we have your correct e-mail address so we can inform you of the system’s availability.  It will even allow us to text you if you choose!

We hope you will be as excited as we are about these changes!




Grand Fiesta for Lucky Donor

Thanks to locally owned Explorer Travel & Toursall February donors will be automatically entered to win a fabulous stay at the Hotel Grand Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta. Agency Owner Leland Davis says he is very excited to be able to offer 4 days and three nights for two at this exciting adults only hotel. This wonderful prize is the Executives’ Association of Kern Countymonthly prize.

The Hotel Grand Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta features majestic views, world-class fine dining and exceptional personalized service at a stylish beachfront all-inclusive resort in Mexico.

Secluded in the lush green and mesmerizing Sierra Madre mountains, but just 15 minutes from the Romantic Zone, Grand Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta offers an unforgettable leisure experience. Our winner can unwind by the infinity pool or dive into the crystal-clear waters of Bahia de Banderas. From guided kayak tours to a pampering at Haixa Spa, fantastic memories await our winner at this unique destination. Watch a video here.

The Explorer Travel & Tours motto is “Adventure is out there…We’ll help you find it.” According to Leland: “We love to explore new destinations and it is our pleasure to assist clients in planning all their travel adventures. We are a full service travel and tour agency that researches, plans, and organizes every detail to your specifications. We love to help charity and relief groups in addition to our other services.”

Leland is a regular blood donor close to reaching the 4 gallon mark. He shares: “My mother-in-law passed away from complications due to leukemia and was required to receive regular blood transfusions.” Leland is also a Kern County firefighter, and adds: “I see the need for blood donations to help support burn victims and victims of traumatic accidents on a daily basis. The most common excuse I hear for not donating is that it hurts, well I will tell you it takes me about 20 – 30 mins and it is easy and you always have some neat snacks to enjoy after donating.”

Leland is proud to represent the travel industry in the Executives’ Association of Kern County and would be happy to hear from anyone wanting to know more about travel. Contact him at 661-374-4577, or info@set4adventure.comBe sure to check out the Explorer Travel & Tours Facebook page.

Note: The winner of the trip must book it through Explorer Travel & Tours, and the winner will be responsible for airfare, transfers, and required travel protection, which will be booked through Explorer Travel and Tours. Extra nights or tours can be added if the client wishes to purchase them. The trip must be booked by 12/1/18.


Kids Born with Half a Heart

You probably remember our delightful friend Charlie, who celebrated her third birthday with us by hosting a month long blood drive with her family. They encouraged 3,333 blood product donations during February 2017 in advance of an impending heart surgery for Charlie.  She went through that successful surgery on May 30th, and is back to her active little self. Your can follow her progress at Hearts for Charlie.

While Charlie was born missing the left side of her heart, her friend Brave Baby Ben was born missing the right side of his, so they have one whole heart between them.  Both are tough little people, having experienced surgery and procedures since birth.  Such surgeries require blood, platelets and plasma donations from donors like you.

We are going to celebrate these two great kids throughout February, which is American Heart Month. They and their families will host a blood drive on Saturday, February 17, 2018 as well.

While we think of hearts in February, it’s probably not the kind beating in our chests.  Real hearts need to be mended constantly in people of all ages, so we hope to see many donors in giving blood, platelets and plasma from their hearts throughout the month.  We will feature more about these great kids all month on social media. Can we beat last year’s February totals in honor of these little survivors? We sure hope so.

March Donor: Anna Gomez

Anna Gomez recently donated her 44th pint with us, and proudly sports her 4 gallon club license plate frame around Orange County, where she is now working a job she loves in quality control with a food company.  She has donated with the blood bank where she lives now, but always donates with us when she is visiting her parents. “It feels like community” with us she says.

Anna did share that she enjoyed the online appointment scheduling at her OC blood bank, and was pleased to hear Houchin would be adding features like that soon. She felt the change would increase enrollment in donation with processes at people’s fingertips in her hometown.

Anna is a graduate of Cal State Northridge and Bakersfield College, and began donating at Ridgeview High, “lured by the free food”, she laughs.  She knows her O+ blood is always needed and she likes to “make a change in the world with her donations.  Her interest in donating increased when a friend was diagnosed with leukemia about 3 years ago.  He is in remission right now, but had a very tough one and a half years of treatments.  Anna says “It’s good to know I can help others with terrible illnesses”. She adds: You don’t see where your blood goes, but you know it is used to save lives”.

We look forward to seeing Anna on her next visit home!

Sal Needs Blood and a Match

Sal Rivera is fighting for his life against a reoccurrence of a rare leukemia. He and his family are very thankful for the blood and platelet donations keeping him alive right now, as he undergoes chemotherapy prior to a bone marrow transplant. He is going through a lot of O- blood and platelets now trying to keep his strength up. Sal, and his wife Kacie,want to be sure there are enough of the products he is using, not just for himself, but for everyone fighting cancer. We do provide blood products to City of Hope when Kern County stocks are sufficient, and have been able to do so during Sal’s stay.

We hope you will support Sal and his family with a blood, platelet or plasma donation during Sal’s Blood Drive from Thursday, February 1 to Saturday, February 10, 2018 at either donor center. The biggest needs are O-, O+, A-, A+, B- and B+ blood, AB plasma, and platelets of any kind.  Platelet and plasma donors should make an appointment by calling 661-616-2505.  Whole blood donors can just walk in.

Sal was diagnosed with a rare form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in April 2016. After a year-long battle, the cancer seemed gone and life was returning to normal for Sal and his family. But, at the end of 2017, Sal’s cancer returned. More information on the family, and Sal’s fight, is available at their Go Fund Me page.

Sal needs a bone marrow transplant to survive, so we are looking for his match from someone of Hispanic/Latin descent. A bone marrow drive on January 20th at Barber Honda saw 65 people sign up to become marrow donors, but we’d like to find more potential matches for Sal, and time is of the essence. We will have bone marrow registration kits at both donor centers throughout the drive for people 18-44 years of age throughout the drive.

The kits we collect will be picked up by Korina Mendoza, Community Outreach Specialist at City of Hope.  Sal will receive his marrow transplant there, as transplants are not available in Kern County.  Korina will be on hand Monday, February 5 from 4 to 6 pm at the Bolthouse Donor Center for those who would like help in English or Spanish. Sal has his own page at Be the Match for those who want more information or to have a kit sent directly to them here

Every 3 minutes, someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer, like Leukemia or Lymphoma. The only hope for a cure is a bone marrow transplant. 70% of patients don’t have a compatible match in the family and rely on finding an unrelated donor. You can help by joining the Be the Match Registry.

Local Mom Hosts Drive Before Due Date

Desiree Kingston almost never met her newborn son, David. She nearly died after delivering him requiring many, many blood, plasma and platelet donations.

Desiree has always been grateful for the many units of blood products that were available to save her life.  Only recently has she had the strength to reach out to Houchin to offer to help us encourage others to donate.  She says she couldn’t until now:  “I think I was still processing how close I came to dying before.” You can make an appointment for the week or just walk in with a whole blood donation.

According to Desiree: “With my first pregnancy my son was born at 34 weeks. He was completely fine and did not need any intervention. I, unfortunately, was a different story. My placenta did not detach on its own or correctly. When it finally did, it tore a section of my uterus with it causing me to hemorrhage greatly. I was rushed into life saving surgery and given multiple blood and platelet transfusions. I really do not remember the first week of my son’s life”.

Desiree’s pregnancy is being closely monitored, and so far everything looks good, but to ensure there are enough blood products available for all patients, Desiree is hosting a week long blood drive from Monday, January 15 to Saturday, January 20, 2018 to encourage donations. Desiree is O+ and newborns need O- blood.  Both types are running low at the blood bank.  Platelets of any kind are needed daily, and AB plasma is crucially low as well.  A+, A-, B+, and B- blood donors are also very welcome to participate.  Show your support for Desiree’s drive by making an appointment here, or just donate at either donor center and sign-in as a supporter on the sheet provided.

Help Us Earn a New Bus!

H&R Block has offered the Houchin Community Blood Bank Foundation an opportunity to raise funds toward a much needed new mobile bus to replace our oldest one through their Nonprofit Referral Service, from January 1 through April 30.  Each donor, or friend of Houchin, who becomes a new client of H&R Block next year can earn us $20.00! All you have to do is present a code at the time of service. The code is provided on slips in the canteens, or on this form you can download and cut apart to share!

H&R Block has offered tax services for over 60 years. With that much tax experience, they know how to deliver the best service possible. Whether you file your taxes with them online, in an office, or with their do-it-yourself software, one thing is certain – they are not happy until you are. H&R Block has a 100% accuracy guarantee and a Max Refund Guarantee. Come tax preparation time H&R Block has 15 convenient locations around Bakersfield, as well as in other part of Kern County like Taft, Arvin, Tehachapi, Ridgecrest, Kern River Valley and Delano.



Sweet Deals for December Donations

Thanks to local businessman, Medhat Habashy, we have some Sweet Deals for your donation in December!

All December donors will receive a coupon for 50% off a Frozen Yogurt and Coffee Drinks at Scoops and Swirls, 5613 Calloway Drive, suite 500.  Plus, all first time December donors who give at either of Houchin’s two donor centers will receive an additional coupon for 50% off a Frozen Yogurt at Tutti Frutti on Stockdale in the Town and Country Shopping Center. Using these coupons will provide a fun break during the holiday shopping this year!

Holiday Accident Tragic for Family

It was Friday, November 24, the day after Thanksgiving, at 8:54 pm when we noticed a significant drop in our dwindling stock of O negative blood and posted this message to social media:

“Tonight our O- red blood cell supply has dipped into the danger zone. Perhaps it is due to the terrible accident at 99 and Taft Highway tonight leaving a young woman and child severely injured, and one child dead. This is exactly the kind of sudden change in our blood supply we have to be prepared for. Can you help us restock??”

Most of the time we know nothing at all about the patients who receive the products our donors provide, but in this case we did learn that a young woman received many units of O- blood in the rush to save her life, but unfortunately had not survived her injuries. As the days have passed we have gathered from news, and other public sources, who this patient was: Karla Mendoza.

The story is this. A young family from Half Moon Bay was traveling south through Kern County on Highway 99 at about 3:15 pm when they got a flat tire just north of Highway 119. Driver Juan Rodriquez slowed to a stop in the center median divider, turned on his hazard signal, and got out of his 2002 Jeep to change the tire.  Remaining in the car were his wife Karla and their children Zoey 3, and Emiliano, 5.

A 2017 Chevrolet speeding south, with an allegedly drunk driver at the wheel, drifted into the center median striking Juan’s parked Jeep.  We can only imagine Juan’s horror as the Jeep holding his family was struck and slammed forward, ending up on its side on the center divider with his wife and children trapped inside. The Jeep then caught fire. Kind motorists stopped and rushed over with fire extinguishers to put out the fire and managed to remove Karla and the children from the burning vehicle.

Karla and Zoe were rushed to the hospital, but little Emiliano died at the scene. Kern Medical tried to save Karla for hours, but she did not make it.  Zoe underwent leg and hip surgery according to a GoFundMe account for the family at Funds for medical and funeral expenses are being sought.

A similar tragedy could happen to any of us or someone we know at anytime.  It is one of those worst fears we push away anytime family or friends are traveling over a holiday weekend. We may not realize it, but we are all relying on the blood bank serving the community we visit or travel through to have the blood products needed readily available in case of emergency. Each blood bank relies on volunteer donors to provide those products in sufficient supply to meet both daily and emergency needs.

The universal blood products, which can go to patients of any blood type, are needed in dire situations like Karla’s.  These products are O- blood, AB plasma and platelets from any blood type. These products are always needed, and we have been running low on all of them for some time.

We are looking for new donors all the time, so whether you know your blood type or not, please come in to join our team this holiday season. If you are already a donor but have not made it in, now is the time. Let’s not forget that no matter where we go, and no matter how busy we are this holiday season, families just like ours will be traveling the nation’s highways and just might need blood products.  Only you can ensure our local supplies are adequate with your gifts of life.

So, our holiday wish list is for new donors, 800 platelets over the month of December, full shelves of all blood types, and a robust supply of the universal blood products: O- red cells and AB plasma.  The platelets can come from any blood type, and we would love to tell you more about the automated donation process used to produce them.  Call 616-2540 for more information about our needs this holiday season, or to ask about your eligibility.  Do not count yourself out if you have had Valley Fever or cancer in the past, or have high blood pressure or diabetes now.  Many otherwise healthy people with those health concerns can donate blood.

Safe travels and Happy Holidays from Houchin Community Blood Bank.

Houchin Hero T-shirt for Two Weeks

This year’s annual winter t-shirt will be offered at the two donor centers from December 18-30 in 2017.  They will also be available on specific community drives throughout Kern County outside those dates, so call 616-2505 for more information and an appointment to donate. The ongoing cost of providing t-shirts by the thousands has proven cost prohibitive to our nonprofit organization.

The theme of the shirt this year recognizes that Houchin Heroes “Light up a Life” by being blood, platelet or plasma donors. We hope the donors who will wear them proudly and publicly throughout the year will make sure to donate during that time when blood is needed most so they can be ambassadors for blood donation whenever they wear it.