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.
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”.
Elijah Fernandez is an incoming senior at Centennial High School. Although he has only had two opportunities to donate at school, he has gone above and beyond and made sure to donate outside of school as well. Elijah is 17-years-old and and he has already donated four times, at this pace he will graduate from high school having reached his first gallon milestone and be a Gallon Grad!
Elijah plans on applying to college this fall. He is excited for his senior year where he will be involved in sports all year long with cross country in the fall, wrestling in the winter, and tennis in the spring! Elijah not only donates blood but he also donates his time to his community by staying an active member of his High School’s Interact Club!
Elijah donates blood because it gives him an opportunity to help others in a short amount of time. He likes knowing that his donation helps another person directly, and that he is able to make a difference. We wish Elijah the best of luck in his final year of high school and hope that his story will inspire other young people to become donors!
Sheila Ross got started donating with her husband Robert, and was on the verge of making her 10th gallon in June. She was sad that Bob was unable to achieve his goal of the 10 gallon club as illness made him unable to give the last 6 pints. Even though he died 12 years ago, Sheila wanted to find a way for him to achieve that goal, so she invited friends and family to help.
On Saturday, June 17, 2017 Sheila organized the Bob Ross Memorial Blood Drive and 14 people signed up to donate in Bob’s honor. Nine were successful, so this was our latest group to make a gallon donation at one time, so her group is now the latest member of our Gr8 Giver Gallon Club.
Sheila will have a photograph of she and Bob as a couple added to our 10 Gallon Walls at the Truxtun Donor Center. Sheila says, “If it wasn’t for my husband, I probably wouldn’t be a regular blood donor. He got me started at Houchin and encouraged me to donate often.”
Bob and Sheila met when she was hired by his public accounting firm of Ryan & Ross. Bob’s partner, Nancy Ryan, made Sheila an offer she couldn’t refuse when she was offere the position as a partner in the firm. The CPA partnership didn’t last long but it was just the beginning of the partnership for Bob and Sheila, who were married in July 1993.
When she is not donating blood, Sheila enjoys volunteering. As a CPA, she has often served as Treasurer for many non-profits. She is a 30 year, and first female, member of the Exchange Club of Bakersfield and also a Past President. Sheila has also served as Treasurer for the Funeral Consumers of Kern County and the Model T Ford Club of Kern County.
Besides volunteering, Sheila enjoys traveling. To her dismay, many of her travels put her on the deferred donor list for 12 months or she would have reached 10 gallons a few years earlier. Sheila always came back to donating though and her 10 gallon achievement, and the boost she gave Bob so he could join her in the 10 Gallon Club, are greatly appreciated.
Leroy Orozco is a three gallon donor. He is also a hard working dad who loves spending time with his family. His dedication towards his work and to his family is what makes him such an inspiration to his kids. Leroy likes to give because he knows that at any moment a friend or a loved one may need it. He gives because it’s the right thing to do.
His children, Miranda and Nickolas, remember that one day while going through some old boxes, they found a Houchin license plate frame. This discovery prompted them to ask their dad how he had earned his plate. Leroy explained to them what blood donation was and that he and his family donated together to help other people’s lives. His kids were excited to one day be able to continue the family tradition and donate with their dad. Both of his kids are now dedicated blood donors, and mom Monica, makes sure they keep to their appointments every eight weeks!
Aside from donating blood, Leroy is a man of many interests. He enjoys working on his car and making his garden beautiful. Leroy’s favorite hangout spot with his kids and wife is Knott’s Berry Farm. He also loves baseball, especially the Los Angeles Dodgers. Thank you Leroy for being such an inspiring dad to your kids and for teaching them the importance of saving lives here in Bakersfield. Happy Father’s Day and we look forward to seeing you and your family at one of our donor centers soon!
We have a great mother-daughter donor story for Mother’s Day Month. Donor Lori Jauch feels very fortunate to be able to hold grandchildren she almost didn’t have. Her 21-year-old daughter, Ashley App McConn, was practicing on her quad going over a huge table top jump eight years ago, when an unfortunate accident occurred.
The quad broke on take-off causing it to send her over the handlebars, eventually landing on her head. She was medevaced out on life support and in a coma for 14 days. She spent 30 days in the hospital, then needed rehab. She needed several pints of blood while hospitalized. Read more about Ashley’s road to recovery here. Lori was thrilled to be able to show Ashley the foal born when she was in a coma once she got better.
After Ashley was fully recovered, Lori decided to start giving back to others in need. She reports “We are truly blessed. She’s now married with two kids. Donating is very important to all of us. The staff is so friendly. Thanks for all you do!!”
Lori enjoys travel, horseback riding, gardening and photography, but her greatest joy is spending time with family, especially her grandchildren.
We thank you for being a blood donor Lori!
Cheryl Isaac became a blood donor 19 years ago. Her husband, then boyfriend, was a regular donor so one day she decided to give it a go and donate with him. Cheryl and her husband made a date out of their donation day. They donated together every eight weeks and would conclude the evening by getting a milkshake. Who would think being a blood donor could be so romantic?
Today, Cheryl continues to donate, however she now donates platelets and plasma. Our telerecruiting department can always count on her to come in to donate when an urgent need is present. Cheryl loves her community and wishes to help others, especially those in greatest need. She says, “It is nice to be able to do something for your community. Sometimes you feel helpless when you can’t help those suffering but this is one way you can. It takes a little bit more time, but it’s worth it because the sickest people benefit from it.”
Cheryl was one of the attendees of this year’s Gold Club Dinner, meaning she donated platelets more than 6 times last year. She actually donated 13 times! She encourages others to strive to reach 6 donations in 2017 to be invited to the next platelet dinner with a guest. Every year a platelet recipient tells the story of their survival thanks to their donations. Cheryl says, “The dinner is great because you get to put faces to people who receive the products you donated.”
Thank you Cheryl for being a noble human being and for giving up your time and cells to save the lives of others. For this and more, you are deserving of being donor of the month!
Patrick Clary’s first time donating was on the day he applied for a job at Houchin Community Blood Bank. Patrick was hired in the distribution department shortly after and he has been saving lives ever since. Today he is the Manager of Materials and Blood Inventory here at Houchin.
Patrick gets on the trima machine to donate platelets frequently, especially on days when platelet appointments are low and the demand by hospitals is high. Patrick has donated 835 units of platelets and one gallon of whole blood. Patrick says, “I strongly believe that we must practice what we preach, this is one of the reasons I donate. It doesn’t feel right for me to ask others to donate if I don’t do it myself.”
Patrick remembers a day when he noticed that the bag of platelets he was about to deliver to a local hospital was the very bag he donated just a couple of days earlier. When he delivered the bag he found out the recipient was a four year old boy battling cancer. Ten years later he found out that the boy survived! His donated platelets played a role in this little boy’s recovery.
Patrick urges people to remember that these donations save the lives of real people of all ages. He says, “If you wait, it may be too late. It’s the blood that is on the shelves now that can save a life today. Don’t wait until a tragedy strikes to be compelled to donate, because by then it may be too late.” He wishes those able to donate would become regular donors. Those able to donate include people with controlled diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension, and other non-blood borne illnesses. As Patrick says, “In this world, we are all family, so let’s help each other out.”
Pregnant with twins at 39 weeks, Brooke Hanson was eager to meet her new babies and hold them in her arms. Little did she know her world was about to be turned upside down, and her life almost ended.
Brooke delivered two beautiful 8 pound baby boys, which she got to hold only briefly before a wave of pain shot through her. She handed the babies over to the nearest nurse and rapidly became unresponsive as her blood pressure plummeted. Brooke had suffered a ruptured aneurysm in her splenic artery. Fortunately for Brooke, she was immediately taken into surgery where seven units of blood helped save her life. Brooke says, “I thank the donors who saved my life and allowed me to be a mother to my children and a wife to my husband.”
Brooke encourages everyone that is able to donate to do so, because everyday lives like her’s can be saved but only if the blood products that can only come from volunteer donors are available. Today, she is committed to donating blood regularly, and to bringing in new donors. Thank you Brooke, for telling your story and inspiring others to donate and save lives.
Leann Meek’s first times donating blood were filled with fun and a little healthy competition! She used to donate blood regularly with her sister and every time they would race to see who’s pint would draw fastest! Who knew donating blood could be so much fun?!
Leann recently became an AB blood type platelet and plasma donor and is now part of the life-saving gold club. She
converted when she received a phone call from our telerecruiting department asking her to please come in and donate for a premature baby who was in the hospital at the time. Leann did not hesitate to make an appointment as she says, “I donated because I knew this child needed me to live and I hope that if my grandchildren were ever in this kind of situation someone would help them.” Many don’t know that the AB blood type is the universal blood type for platelets and plasma. This means that in the case of an emergency or a very sick baby, AB platelets and plasma are used. This is why it is so important that people like Leann, AB donors, come in regularly.
Leann enjoys spending time in her garden and spending time outdoors in the summer. She is a committed donor and encourages others to donate! Leann says, “Try it at least once. Honestly, it’s like a break from your day where you can just chill and watch TV or go on the computer. Don’t be scared of it it’s not painful. ” Thank you, Leann, for selflessly giving the best gift anyone could give, life! See you back at our donor center soon!