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.

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!

December Donor: Ramon Hendrix

Ramon Hendrix recently received his 21 gallon license plate frame from Nurse Carlena. He was thrilled to be seated next to a former student and first time donor, Kristina Florez at the time. Mr. Hendrix was the principal of Stockdale High School for 13 years, just recently becoming the new Superintendent of the Greenfield Union School District.  Kristina is a junior at Stockdale High, so it was a great reunion for them both.  Kristina says she was encouraged to donate not only to save lives, but to be part of the annual Give it Up High School Blood Drive Challenge.  The high school challenge was always supported by Mr. Hendrix during his tenure at Stockdale.

Mr. Hendrix’s own blood donation career was shaped when he worked at Mercy Hospital in the pharmacy and saw how many patients were in need of transfusions.  Both of his parents needed transfusions during their lives, so he says he just wants to help other people out by being a donor. Thank you Mr. Hendrix for all those lives you have impacted with your 21 lifesaving gallons!