“Doing now what patients need next” — that is the mission of Roche Molecular Systems, Inc. located in Pleasanton, California. Roche is a leader in the field of diagnostics and blood screening, with the work they do helping ensure that the donated blood supply is safe for transfusion. Using the innovative products created by Roche, customers like Stanford Blood Center (SBC), are able to test donated blood units and provide hospitals with quality products to meet patient needs.
By Kristin Stankus, digital community and social media specialist
Stanford Blood Center (SBC) works with many organizations throughout the Bay Area, and last month one of our community partners went above and beyond in helping local patients. This is the inspiring story of the wonderful people at Fletcher Jones Motorcars of Fremont.
In July 2014, Luis Krystal, corporate manager for Fletcher Jones, contacted SBC for a very personal reason – his daughter Liza was very ill and being treated at Stanford Hospital and Clinics. She was diagnosed with bone cancer and required blood transfusions weekly. Luis wanted to do something to celebrate his daughter and appreciate the blood donors that were so critical to her treatment, so he hosted his first mobile blood drive for employees and customers. They collected 18 units of blood.
Around the time of the blood drive, Liza received an autologous bone marrow transplant; a transplant of her own bone marrow that was previously donated for this purpose. Unfortunately, the procedure was unsuccessful; soon after, Liza received a second transplant, receiving bone marrow from a donor. Sadly, a few weeks later, Liza passed. Luis was heartbroken but wanted to turn his sadness into a vehicle for helping others. He decided he would continue to host a blood drive every year at Fletcher Jones to help others and keep his daughter’s memory alive. The second drive took place this October and collected 28 units. Luis looks forward to continuing to increase the number of units collected each year.
To Luis’ surprise, Fletcher Jones himself flew in from Las Vegas to donate blood and also present Luis and SBC with a check for $1,000 to support the cause. “I’m very proud that Fletcher Jones embraced the blood drive and the motivation behind it. Liza was a tremendous power and there was beauty in her strength. She was a loving creature and would be very proud of what we are doing in her memory,” Luis said.
SBC thanks Fletcher Jones for their generosity and support of blood donation and feels honored to be part of keeping Liza’s memory alive.
To make an appointment to donate blood, visit us at bloodcenter.stanford.edu.
To follow in Luis’ footsteps and schedule your own corporate blood drive, contact Carolyn Tong at 650-723-8015.
by: Deepthi Sampathkumar, volunteer and high school blood drive coordinator
Every weekend, I don my grey “Stanford Blood Center Volunteer” shirt and head to the Mountain View donation center to assist in the post-donation canteen. The fresh scent of coffee and cookies fills my senses as I take my seat at the donor table. Thereafter, the smiling faces of the donors greet me, and I engage in wonderful, insightful talks with donors at the table.
I’ve been volunteering at Stanford Blood Center (SBC) for years and truly believe it is part of one of the noblest causes on earth: providing blood for numerous blood transfusions, operations and procedures. I am so glad to be part of the cause of lives being saved due to successful blood transfusions.
After spending time volunteering in the canteen, I realized that I wanted to bring awareness of the importance of blood donation to my high school so my friends, classmates and teachers could be part of the higher cause that I dedicate my free time to. So I decided to volunteer as my high school’s blood drive coordinator, helping organize and publicize blood drives at my school.
As the coordinator, I am part of a team that works to spread the word about and organize our drives in a timely manner. We work hard to encourage students to participate by donating blood, but while planning and coordinating the drive, I realized there was a discrepancy among the student body. The world of blood donation was something that was unknown to people at my school.
I learned that many teenagers were under-informed about the benefits and importance of blood donation. Most of my peers thought that it was something mainly for adults to do and that donating blood was an extremely hefty responsibility. They also seemed to be afraid that donating would hurt, when really it is an easy and painless process.
In order to eradicate this fear of donating in teenagers, I took on the challenge of spreading awareness of the importance of blood donation. When I came to my shifts at the canteen, I began to talk to the donors about why they donate blood with the intent of sharing their reasons with my peers. I was awed by the responses of the donors. Some told me that they donate because it saved a loved-one’s life; some told me that donation was their way of giving back to the community. I hope that sharing these stories with my peers motivates them to give back and save lives through blood donation.
It is so important that students get involved in blood donation because a large percentage of SBC’s supply comes from high school drives. Also, high school students that donate blood often continue to donate throughout adulthood, helping save countless lives. So to encourage more high school students to get involved, SBC recently launched a high school scholarship program, through which students change patient’s lives for the better as well as their own.
As a high school blood drive coordinator and ambassador, I encourage everyone who is eligible to donate blood. Donating blood is an easy way to make a huge impact in the lives of many people. My goal is to eradicate the fear of donating blood in teenagers and to encourage them to start donating blood in high school. The impact one can make by donating blood is truly amazing and satisfying.
55,000 units of blood per year – that is the collection goal of Stanford Blood Center. If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. What you may not know is that approximately 55% of this goal is met through mobile blood drive collections.
Of course, blood collection at our center locations is also important but while centers are more focused on recruiting donors of certain blood types to meet specific demands, mobile drives focus on collecting as many units as possible. Another primary goal of mobile drives is recruiting first time donors. Our collections staff travels to a variety of locations, making it convenient for people to give blood. Often times, this is how individuals learn about SBC and decide to become first-time donors. The hope is that these new donors then turn into repeat donors.
Mobile drives can be held at an office building, a high school, or even at a neighborhood community center. SBC requires a minimum of 20 sign-ups, so those that can rally at least that many interested individuals together can host a mobile drive.
Mobile charge nurse of 12 years, Sue Belanger, provided some insight as to why she loves working on mobiles:
“Every day is different. Working on mobiles provides us (nurses) insight into Silicon Valley. We can feel what the pulse of the people is because donors come in and tell you a lot about their lives, their jobs and why they donate. They feel good about donating, so it’s very rewarding to be able to interact with them. It is a privilege to be able to go to any one of the businesses we visit and get to know their unique group of people.”
Blood Drive Coordinators
Currently, SBC serves over 460 active accounts that host mobiles drives annually. Many accounts started with a patient need, somebody’s co-worker or family member needing blood after becoming ill, prompting them to hold a blood drive. These folks have then continued to host drives as a way for their group to help others in need, just as their loved one was helped through the generosity of volunteer blood donations.
For those who would like to take on the role of organizing blood drives, there is the opportunity to become a volunteer blood drive coordinator (BDC). This person may be an administrative assistant at a large office, a pastor of a church, or the owner of a small business, so long as they are passionate and committed to helping SBC collect blood. “Working with a volunteer blood drive coordinator is really the cornerstone to the success of mobile blood drives,” explains Karen Hendryk, donor recruitment manager. The BDC works with an SBC account manager to determine the location and logistics of the drive, promoting the drive, facilitating donor sign-ups, and making sure everything is set up for collections staff the day of the drive.
SBC thanks each of our BDCs for all the good they have done, whether they have just completed their first drive or have been involved for ten or more years. The number of people they have helped through these donations is countless.
To arrange a mobile drive at your office or in your community, please call 650-723-8015. For more information, please visit our website.
By Sinead Borgersen, Coordinator for Nimsoft Blood Drives
My two-year-old son Faelan has a hereditary red blood cell fragility disorder called hereditary spherocytosis. He inherited it from me and I inherited from my mother with another of my siblings. His red blood cells are fragile and spherical in shape instead of the normal donut shape due to a defective gene that causes the shell to be misshapen, like a pole missing in a tent. His red blood cells live a shorter life and the spleen becomes enlarged as it attacks the red blood cells, causing them to live a very shortened lifespan of 3-10 days. So he is anemic and fatigues easily.
Although rare, it’s one of the most common blood disorders for children. We were the first to be diagnosed ever at our hospital when he was born and ended up educating the doctors/nurses on what the disease was. We got them in contact with Dr. Glader, a pediatric hematologist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital (LPCH), as I knew my children may get the disease and so was prepared beforehand. Thanks to our education of the staff where he was born, they referred another three families in less than a year to the hematology clinic at LPCH where the families didn’t know their child had the blood disorder.
When he was born we spent 32 days in the hospital with pathological jaundice and anemic crisis. Although his anemia is continually monitored with blood tests, much lower red blood cell production (aplastic crisis) can be easily caused by many viral infections, which can make anemia worse.
I also have this disorder and it is treated by removal of the spleen and gallbladder, normally at age five (gallstones are a complication of the early breakdown of the red cells). However, until he reaches age five, he is at risk for normal viruses putting him into anemic crisis. Faelan is lucky as he has stabilized somewhat but his 14-month-old cousin also has the disorder and has just received his tenth blood transfusion.
Faelan’s Blood Use
Common childhood viruses have caused Faelan’s hemoglobin to dip to five and below (should be 13-17 in children). So he has needed immediate emergency transfusions. To date Faelan has received three full blood transfusions that literally saved his life. He had gone into anemic crisis where he becomes like a rag doll, pale as a ghost, you can see right through his ears, he can’t lift his head, can’t feed, can’t even cry for what he needs. One of the signs is that he is hard to wake, very sleepy and not responsive. Most parents love that their kids nap or are good sleepers we have to be careful of him napping too long or being hard to wake as it’s often before he gets sick. Sometimes his hemoglobin dips to eight and he is borderline for a transfusion at which point we wait to see how he responds to medicine or steroids.
The bag of blood though, is like a battery just charges him right up! I see him pink right up, get more alert, start feeding and getting ready to explore like any normal toddler. When you see him running around and joking and sitting on his brother wrestling, it’s hard to believe he has gotten so sick. We are very blessed as we know it could be a lot worse and it’s very manageable. It’s only manageable, though, because strangers donated blood to give to children like Faelan. Without those magic batteries he wouldn’t be alive. When he gets his spleen out he will also need a lot of extra blood in the OR and at any time that he gets too sick. I can’t donate as I have the same disorder plus my time in Ireland disqualifies me due to mad cow scare. My husband is in a different blood group than Faelan so we literally depend on the generous hearts and blood of strangers.
How I got involved as a blood drive coordinator
I’m the Senior HR Business Partner for Nimsoft, a CA technologies company in Campbell. One of my staff mentioned that there was a bloodmobile at one of our Redwood City offices, so I thought it would be great to organize a local drive at work. Many people want to give they just don’t have time to go off during the day so bringing it to them seemed the right way to go.
I contacted Stanford Blood Center and my real estate management team at Pruneyard Equity and asked them to all come to a meeting. We planned a date for May 2012, I got set up as a coordinator, and got the ball rolling. I asked my husband to design a T-shirt we could give away as I knew that would be a good draw. (Below, Faelan wears the shirt proudly.)
I advertised on Facebook setting up an event, put it on LinkedIn, Twitter, and G+, sent notice at work, and sent details of Faelan’s story to local newspapers for Campbell. I also emailed everyone I knew and asked them to spread the word even if they couldn’t donate. Pruneyard – Equity put up posters at work and sent out notice to tenants. Before we had the posters up I had all appointments full and had to ask they extend the drive and bring more staff. We had a great first drive and had to turn away folks. The t-shirts and giveaways were a big hit and I’m hoping we do as well for our next drive on August 14. I know August is harder but we’re at 30 appointments now for the goal of 31. Be great if we could fill all 48 slots.
I can’t donate myself but like I said that doesn’t stop me from getting others out to do this. My sister, dad and the others in our family who can donate donate every eight weeks like clockwork. My dad was awarded a special pelican statue in Ireland years ago at a special award dinner with our Irish president for donating the gallons he has donated over the years. So it’s in our blood to donate for sure ☺