By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer
January 28, 2021- Jennifer Bowen of Tallmadge, Ohio, rolled up her sleeve at an American Red Cross blood drive recently and donated for the first time. “I wish it didn’t take a tragic event to make me realize how simple it is to help save a life!” she said.
“My niece Alivia is only 12 years old and needs weekly blood transfusions to survive, due to her diagnosis of Severe Aplastic Anemia. Alivia, while living with this condition, is so positive, so strong and just inspires me to make a difference in the world!” explained Jennifer.
January is National Blood Donor Month, which spotlights the fact that due to seasonal illnesses, the number of people signing up for blood drives drops off. But the need for lifesaving or life-sustaining blood transfusions never dries up.
Jesika Florin of Hudson, Ohio, sees that need up close and personal: “I’ve been a nurse for over a decade. I administer all blood products to patients on a regular basis.
“I’ve seen the baby fighting for life with a bad heart. I’ve seen the dad who endured traumatic injuries from a car accident. I’ve seen the pregnant mother losing her child. I’ve seen the grandmother who couldn’t afford health care and put everyone’s needs above her own only to find her body giving out. I’ve seen the teenage son who sustained gunshot wounds.”
“Blood products saved these people’s lives. The countless bags of blood products I’ve hung have all had stories of lives saved and lives lost. I see the difference a 15 to 30 minute donation can make. I see the life come back in a person after a transfusion. It may be a needle stick to my arm, but it’s someone’s family I’m helping to have more time with those they love.”
Jesika donates, and she has advice for anyone considering giving blood for the first time: “Hop up on that table, put your latest show on your phone, breathe (because 1, 2, 3…stick). Now, close your eyes, clear your head and thoughts, just relax, and take a few moments for you. Once you’re all done, grab your snack, and walk out knowing you just saved someone’s life, or three.”
Three? What does she mean by “three?”
Every unit of whole blood can be administered as is, such as to accident victims or sickle cell patients. Or a unit of blood may be separated into its main components:
- red blood cells (frequently given to trauma and surgery patients)
- platelets (used to treat blood disorders like anemia and certain cancers)
- plasma (used to treat a variety of acute conditions, such as severe burns).
David Masirovits of Ashtabula, Ohio, is committed to Power Red donations. Power Red is similar to a whole blood donation, except a special machine is used to allow the donor to safely give two units of red blood cells during one donation while receiving their plasma and platelets back at the same time.
“My sister Susan and I had a Power Red competition for several years until she passed away in 2016,” said David. “So now I give for her and am proud to do so. My sister started it and now I get to finish it. When she passed, she had 28 Power Red donations.
“For an hour of your time, you have the opportunity to change someone’s life forever. Someday this life could be a friend and or a family member. So do it, please!” urged David.
To sign up for a blood drive near you, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer