Accident Survivor Thanks Donors

Emma Gillian had just turned 15 and was coming home from softball when she was hit by a truck as she was crossing a street. She flew so far and hard, that her cleats flew off her feet. She was rushed to Kern Medical Center, now Kern Medical, and was placed into a medically induced coma.

Emma’s pelvis was shattered in 7 different places, plus she had 7 broken ribs, a lacerated liver, a deflated lung, and a hernia. With just the pelvic injury alone, her chances of survival dropped drastically. It wasn’t till three days later that she woke up to find she had survived, thanks in large part to donated blood.

Friends and family and people she didn’t even know got together and had multiple blood drives where they donated specifically for Emma.  Emma says: “I would love to have the chance to thank each of them individually, but that may never happen. To whoever is reading this though, thank you for giving blood. Because of you someone like me gets to continue their life a little longer.”

Emma is now a double major in Liberal Studies and Computer Science at California State University Bakersfield with a 3.0 gpa.   She also reports “As soon as I was eligible, I started donating blood to make sure more people like me survived.”

Thanks for Giving from EAKC Members

To say Thanks for Giving this month we have a wonderful monthly prize for November thanks to members of the Executives’ Association of Kern County (EAKC). The Monthly Prize is a $500 Walmart Gift Card, courtesy of Mel Ehrlich, Ehrlich Pledger Law LLP, and John Rodgers, CFP! To enter, just remember to donate on a mobile drive or at either donor centers during November. Just think, you could use a Walmart Gift Card for groceries, presents or even a television or computer.  It’s truly a great prize for this time of year.

Mel Ehrlich has been a proud member of EAKC for decades. Ehrlich • Pledger Law, LLP, offers quality legal representation to clients throughout California. As one of the few independent oil and gas law firms in the Kern County area, the firm focuses primarily on matters pertaining to oil and gas law and mineral rights leases. Additionally, Ehrlich • Pledger Law, LLP handlesEP Law Logo real estate matters related to, or independent of, oil and gas legal issues. This includes quiet title actions to clean up a recorded title to mineral rights, surface rights or both, as well as for other real property. Mel has kindly contributed to the monthly prize before.

John Rodgers, Certified Financial Planner (CPF), John Rodgershas more than 35 years of experience in the financial planning industry, and would love to discuss any needs you have regarding financial planning, tax planning, insurance, estate planning, and retirement. John Can be reached at 661-241-9397. John is a dedicated 20 gallon donor, who has previously shown support for the Houchin mission by sponsoring prizes and events. He has always been active in the community, and served on the Kern Community College District Board for many years.

We appreciate these local business owners for supporting blood banking in our community by providing our Thanks for Giving prize for the November EAKC Monthly Prize!

Lessons Learned from Las Vegas

We offer our sincere condolences to everyone affected by the tragedy in Las Vegas, including family and friends of the five Kern County victims who died, and the Tehachapi resident still fighting for her life. This horrific event has certainly hit home for all of us.  Unfortunately, we did miss an opportunity to have platelets in position to help those wounded.

Blood Centers of America (BCA) contacted us at 9:55 am on Saturday, September 30, 2017 in a desperate search for 50 units of lifesaving platelets for the American Red Cross (ARC). Sadly, we had none to offer, as our own collections were barely enough to sustain our regular patient needs. Day after day all week we had begged people to come in to donate platelets, but nothing worked.  Had we had any to share, they would have immediately been on their way to the national supply chain, which just hours later was sending additional supplies to back up ready supplies in Las Vegas, NV to save lives in the worst mass shooting in United States history.  Lesson number one: The blood on the shelves saves lives.

Lives hanging in the balance due to bleeding, like the injuries faced by so many victims in Las Vegas, need three products in combination to stop the bleeding and survive: plasma, platelets, and then red cells.  These are repeated until the bleeding is under control, and called the Massive Transfusion Protocol or MTP.  The MTP was developed on the battlefields in Iran and Iraq and is now used in all trauma centers nationwide.  All these products must all be on the shelf at the hospital, available to save lives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The local blood bank is notified an MTP is underway, and additional products rushed in to provide backup supplies.  If additional stocks are needed, the blood bank taps into their own unique supply chains of other nearby banks and/or the national supply chains, which include our affiliate BCA, and ARC.

The existing blood distribution system sends needed products around the nation every day. So long as regular donors keep up donations, and mobile buses can hit the road, there is sufficient tested blood and plasma on the shelves, although it may need to be moved around in emergencies. These products are readily available because plasma can be frozen for up to a year, and red blood cells have a 42 day shelf life. Both can be stocked in quantity. The same is not true of platelets, which must be kept warm and moving, so that they stay viable. They only last 5 days, so a steady stream of donors is needed each day to provide them.  

 Lesson number two: There is never a need for blood donation lines. The donations given after a need occurs will not be ready to distribute for at least 24 hours due to testing. Unfortunately, calls to donate blood after the shooting motivated thousands of donors nationwide to get in line to donate whole blood, and blood banks, including ours, were inundated with goodhearted donors. According to ARC, they transferred just 250 units of blood to help Las Vegas hospitals, a mere drop compared to all that was donated in an effort to help afterwards. If not used, those products will all expire in November.  The best message is to contact your local blood bank to make arrangements to donate what is needed over the next weeks.

Lesson number three: More people need to give platelets.  Even though it takes a little more time, if you have the veins and platelet count to do it, please, please find out more about donating them. Before, during and after the shooting platelets have been in short supply.  We are still turning down blood banks checking to see if we have any to share today.  Thankfully, the message has been getting out locally that platelets are what is most needed now, and we have been able to find new donors this week, but many more are needed.  Platelets are needed by surgery and cancer patients, premature infants and a host of other ill and injured people every day.  None of these patients will survive without volunteer donors.

To find out more about platelet donation, call 661-323-4222.  With your help, when the next call for platelets comes, we will be able to say: “Yes, we can help”.


October Donor – Michael Ortiz

Michael Ortiz made sure to keep his platelet donation appointment when he heard how low the supplies were.  He was pretty much all by himself in the Bolthouse Donor Center sadly enough.  Michael has given platelets 4 times now, and knows he can give those along with a unit of O+ blood every two months, then he can also give platelets and plasma the month in between.  He wants to keep getting the gallon club license plate frames, but also wants to help the most people with his donation.  That’s why he gave automated donation a try when Houchin staff explained the great need.

Michael suggests that young people such as himself give platelet donation a try, since donors are needed every day to keep up with the demand for something with only a five day life.  He says, “More younger people should come out and try it.  Help others out if you can”.

Michael likes heading to Iron Arms Gym after work and hanging with his girl in his spare time.  He also likes helping the community through blood and platelet donation.

September Donor Lewis Gunsolus

Our September Donor of the Month, Lewis Gunsolus, has a very special story to share. He had donated blood a few times in high school, when he suddenly needed it himself.

It was New Year’s Eve in 2010, when Lewis was driving a friend home and pulled out at a blind intersection not realising an approaching car was going 75 miles a hour and gaining on him too fast. The car t-boned his, hitting the driver side door. His vehicle was thrown to the other side of the road with Lewis’s head bouncing against the door. It was his senior year of high school, and he was 17.

Lewis was unconscious and his skull was fractured and his spleen ruptured, so he needed six units of blood fast to save his life and survive surgery to pin his skull and remove his spleen. He was placed in a medically induced coma for 6 weeks at Kern Medical to heal. When he finally woke from the coma, he had turned 18.  Fortunately, since the injuries occurred when he was 17, Lewis was transferred to Valley

Children’s Hospital for further treatment.  He doesn’t recall much about this period except for his dad bringing his dog to see him.  He was able to walk out of the hospital two and a half months later, and returned to half days at Frontier High School.  His classmates had sold candy and colorful wristbands with his name on them to help with expenses. He remembers well being able to walk across the stage to graduate with his class in 2011.

Except for a trachea scar, barely noticeable skull scar, and a pin in his head, the accident is behind Lewis. He works for HSI which provides fire sprinklers, and has an 18 month old son.  Lewis is one of our platelet donors who can “do a triple”, the most possible, when he’s on the automated donation machine.  He switched from whole blood donations to platelets when he had to wait for his dad, also Lewis, who is also a platelet donor.

Lewis just says thank you to all blood donors for saving his life.  The accident really made him think “That if someone could help me, I could help others”. He suggests that donors just give platelet donation a try. He likes that platelets replace faster in the body than red cells as they are returned to the donor after platelets are removed. Lewis assures potential donors “that the needle is really the same”.

Mom Tells of Transfusion Miracle

Donor Victoria Garza shared the story of why she donates with us. Her reason is her son Adam, who is featured as our patient of the month for August. After a complicated pregnancy, Adam was born with a birth defect, Gastroschisis.  His intestines and part of his liver were developed on the outside of his body leaving a big hole in his abdomen.  After two surgeries, his recovery was still very rough.  He needed and received a blood transfusion. According to Victoria:  “After the transfusion, his recovery and health improved so fast!”

Adam, is now 5 years old and he is the reason Victoria donates.  She says: “Because somewhere out there is a person in need of a little help.  And it’s my way of helping and thanking others who donate.”

Adam is no stranger to blood donation, because according to Victoria, “I bring my son with me every time I donate.  He loves to meet everyone, enjoy a snack and accompany me while we save life.”

We appreciate Victoria sharing her story and allowing us to meet Adam, whose life truly hung in the balance in need of the transfusion only donors can provide. Maybe you will run into Victoria and Adam during your donation!

If you have a story to share, just do what Victoria did, and let us know about it here.

August EAKC Prize is a Winner

Mortgage Broker Tracy Frith provides a fabulous prize one month each year as the Executives’ Association of Kern County prize.  This year she has the month of August and has come up with this International Flavors Tree, loaded with gift cards. The winner can enjoy all the gift cards or share them with family or friends. There are no forms to fill out to enter to win, as we do a random drawing from all the donors at both donor centers and all the mobile drives to choose the winner.

Tracy is a long time member of the Executives’ Association of Kern County. She prides herself on providing “Relationships beyond Lending”, and has been a local Mortgage Broker since 1995. She holds both a California Real Estate License and an NMLS license. She is a past member of the Active 20/30 Club, Women’s Council of Realtors, was on the 2014 and 2015 Committee for the Bakersfield Association of Realtors Wine Tasting and Auction, plus an active Board Member of the Real Estate Professionals Family Relief Fund. Tracy offers all types of Residential Financing including FHA, Conventional, VA and Construction Loans.  Her strong attention to detail provides for a stress free transaction. If you are thinking about refinancing or purchasing a new home, and looking for great service, Tracy can be reached at or 661-472-0932.

Mother and Son Saved by Blood Donations

Just hours after posing for photographs and a Kern County Health Department video on pregnancy on June 29, 2016, Supervisor Leticia Perez was speaking with her husband Fernando Jara and their son Jude, when her water broke.  She was carrying her second son Noah, and he was not due until August 29th.  She checked into Kern Medical and was hospitalized so she could be monitored on complete bed rest in an effort to give Noah as much time as possible to continue to grow. Noah was born on July 7 at 5 lbs and 19 inches.  Both Noah and his mom needed blood products to recover and thrive.

According to Supervisor Perez: “When I was in the hospital, I had to rely on the generosity and kindness of so many people in this community who offered their own blood so that people like me would have a fighting chance. Me and little Noah are safe and sound because of it. Please consider how your contribution literally saves lives.”

As a result of her experience, Supervisor Perez and her staff have spearheaded regular blood drives at the County Administration Building.  The last drive on August 30, 2017 at 1115 Truxtun Avenue, from 9 am to 1 pm was very special for Supervisor Perez because she passed the one year mark of her blood transfusion and could become a first time donor herself. The drive was very successful with 85 donors providing 66 pints of blood, a significant increase over the goal of 57 pints. Donors got to meet one year old Noah who is a little charmer.

Supervisor Perez has held the 5th District seat since 2013. The district covers the areas of East Bakersfield, Greenfield, Weedpatch, Lamont and Arvin.

2nd Annual Sundae Celebration

Tuesday, July 25th is National Hot Fudge Sundae Day and we are celebrating with make your own sundae stations at both donor centers from 9 am to 6 pm while supplies last.  Directions to the donor centers located at 5901 Truxtun Avenue and 11515 Bolthouse Drive in Bakersfield are available here.  This is the second year the blood bank has provided sundae makings to celebrate the lifesaving contributions of the summer donors coming in that day.

Platelet donors are desperately needed of all blood types to help meet local patient needs. O+ and O- are the most needed blood types nationwide with a summer shortage continuing. AB blood is needed only for plasma and platelet donations. Appointments at the donor centers are necessary for platelet and plasma donations, but whole blood donors are encouraged to just walk in. The appointment hotline is 616-2505, or click here for an online appointment form.

People should not presume they cannot donate blood for many common ailments such as diabetes and high blood pressure.  There are very few medicines and conditions which keep someone from donating, which you can see here. People with questions about donation can call 323-4222 for more information

Group Gives are Welcome

We are looking for small groups of friends, co-workers, family members, youth groups or any team of people 16 and over who would like to donate blood together to help us fill the ongoing need for blood products. Although it is completely optional, groups of 8 or more can try to give a gallon at one time and be entered into our Gr8 Givers Gallon Club.

We appreciate the opportunity to let Donor Services staff know that a group is coming in, so if you can plan ahead, contact Community Development at 616-2500 or We can send you advance information on getting ready for donation, and help you select a time when we will be fully staffed so we can get you in the chairs as soon as possible.

One of our recent group gives came from the office of Dr. Tadej and Dr. Baker’s Orthodontics Office, as shown above.  We appreciated working with Vanessa Ogle on that June 16th drive. The ladies hope to organize a mobile drive or try for the gallon club when they are next eligible.

Luis Cruz organized a second group give by employees of the Tommy Hilfiger Store at the Outlets of Tejon on June 16th. They came after work, and posed for a group photo to share with corporate to illustrate their generous support to the local community’s blood needs.