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 https://www.gofundme.com/rodriguez-mendoza-memory. 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.

Hit by Truck, Young Mother Saved by Blood Donations

It was October 19, 2005, and Shelby Steel and her daughter were on their way to a birthday party in Tehachapi when their Nissan Altima was struck in an intersection by a pickup truck.  The truck driver had been drinking and was speeding. Two-year-old Mayela Rose was tucked in her booster seat in the back seat and escaped unharmed, but Shelby almost died of her injuries, needing 4 units of red blood cells to survive. She says: “Blood donors saved my life!”

At the time of the accident, Shelby was a 20 year old college freshman at Bakersfield College. She credits blood donors with the opportunity to live to see Mayela Rose grow up and be with her when she married Christopher Morgan.

After surviving the accident, Shelby was able to go on to college to study art therapy, and worked as a volunteer at Mercy Hospital on Truxtun Avenue doing art with the patients.

Shelby is currently working at a call center doing technical support for Apple, and hopes to eventually go into police dispatching. She is an O+ blood donor who knows O+ red cells are the most needed type at hospitals.  She wants to ensure blood is available for someone who needs a transfusion to survive, just like she did.

Thanks for being a donor Shelby and for sharing your story with us.  Anyone who wants to tell us their story can enter it here, or fill in a story sheet in the canteens at either donor center after their next donation like Shelby did!

Free Entree from Broken Yolk Cafe

The Broken Yolk Cafe is thankful for blood donors and wants to show it by providing free entrees to them at Thanksgiving throughout Southern California. According to the company:  “November is the month of giving and we can all do our part to save lives in our community.  So donate blood and enjoy a hearty breakfast at the Broken Yolk Café”

They have generously provided us with enough free entrée coupons to reward donors who come in to either donor center Thanksgiving week, November 20, 21, 22 and 24 to help us stock up the blood supply before and after Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, November 23 when we will be closed. We will continue to give them out as long as supplies last.

Broken Yolk Cafe now has two locations in Bakersfield.  The newest location is on the east side at 7919 East Brundage Lane, and the other is just north of our Bolthouse Donor Center at 3300 Buena Vista Drive.  Maps to each location are available by clicking the links to Bakersfield – East and Bakersfield – West.

The Original Broken Yolk Cafe started in 1979 in Pacific Beach, a local beach community in San Diego, California. For years, wait lines ran out the door on weekends causing passers-by to stop in and give the restaurant a try. The restaurant is known for high quality, homemade food and large portions, so it has certainly been a hit in Bakersfield.

At the Broken Yolk Cafe the primary focus is on serving high quality food and giving each guest a great experience. The restaurant is also known for its charitable giving and BYC Challenge which involves a person eating all of a 12 egg omelet plus sides. For those who can do it, the meal is free and comes with a free t-shirt and other recognition. We appreciate the generous support of blood banking in our community shown by the Broken Yolk Cafe.


Cyber Monday Blood Drive

H&R Block has a special offer for our donors. Donate at any mobile drive or donor center between Wednesday, November 1 and Saturday, November 18 for your chance to win a $250 Amazon Gift Card just in time for Cyber Monday! Donors are automatically entered to win this timely prize.  What would you buy on Cyber Monday if we call you with the good news?

H& R Block has also offered the Houchin Community Blood Bank Foundation an opportunity to raise some 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.



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.