Help family, friends and neighbors by becoming a Red Cross Volunteer Transportation Specialist

By Chris Chmura, American Red Cross volunteer

September 21, 2020- We are all living in a new world with daily changes, challenges and a different pace in our professional and personal lives. Everyone has been pushed to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One glaring fact is that millions of people have had their lives transformed into a daily struggle for life’s basic needs of food, shelter and, most importantly, their health. I have learned a deeper appreciation for these basic needs.

Chris Chmura

For years, I have donated blood to the American Red Cross to help others in need, feel like I was giving back and to follow my father’s lead with his years of donations. I wondered how I could increase my support by stepping into a more active role. I signed up to become a volunteer transportation specialist. 

Why this role? 

The Red Cross has many options for you to volunteer your time but the transportation specialist fit into my personal and professional schedule. Plus the position is fun! I enjoy going into various hospitals/labs, traveling throughout the city and working with people who are making a huge difference in millions of lives. My professional role is in the business world. So this volunteer position takes me into the dramatically different health profession. My respect has gone sky-high for the kind people who work around the clock at Red Cross labs and hospitals to process blood for people in need. I am amazed by the journey blood travels from a donor to the person who relies on it to save their life.  

My position started with some online training, driver shadowing and taking the leap to take over a shift. The Red Cross has an incredible network of support to help you succeed in this volunteer role. I hope you decide to sign up for this fulfilling experience. You can meet all types of people, learn about this lifesaving organization, expand your personal growth and feel the satisfaction of helping during this historic time. 

Do you have what it takes?

Are you a dependable, safe and courteous person who can help us make these important deliveries? Volunteer Transportation Specialists deliver lifesaving blood products from Red Cross distribution facilities to hospitals, using a Red Cross vehicle. We need you to commit to two to four shifts per month (or more if you can). Typical shifts are about four hours.

You’ll also need to meet these important qualifications:

  • Have a valid state driver’s license and proof of insurance
  • Have three years of driving experience and a clean driving record
  • Ability to lift up to 45 pounds

Apply to volunteer at: redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer


Got ink? You can still give blood

By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Northern Ohio Biomedical Services

July 17, 2020- In honor of National Tattoo Day today we’re debunking the myth that those with tattoos can’t give blood. On June 8, the American Red Cross implemented new changes to donor eligibility criteria that may make it even easier for those with tattoos to give!

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In most states, including Ohio, there is no waiting period to give blood if your tattoo was applied in a state-regulated facility. The District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming do not regulate tattoo facilities. If you received a tattoo in one of these states, the waiting period to give has gone from 12 months to three months.

If you are an individual currently deferred with the Red Cross for a tattoo under the former policy, your donor record will be updated by the end of July to align with the new policy. If you would like to have your donor record updated prior to then, donors can contact the Red Cross Donor and Client Support Center at 1-866-236-3276 for more immediate action. Please be aware that deferrals cannot be removed onsite at our blood drives or donation centers.

 

The Red Cross currently has an urgent need for blood donors to help ensure patients receive the lifesaving blood products they need. Healthy, eligible donors are encouraged to make an appointment in the coming weeks. To schedule a time to give, download the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. Donors are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance and recent local and state mandates. To learn more about donor eligibility, visit RedCrossBlood.org/eligibility.

 

Scared of needles? That is okay! You can help the Red Cross assist patients in need of lifesaving blood by becoming a volunteer blood donor ambassador at Red Cross blood drives. Visit redcross.org/volunteertoday to learn more and to apply.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

Red Cross joins forces with WONDER WOMAN 1984 to save the day for patients in need

By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Northern Ohio Biomedical Services

July 8, 2020- This July, the American Red Cross and WONDER WOMAN 1984 are joining forces to save the day for patients in need of lifesaving blood transfusions. The Red Cross has an urgent need for blood donors this summer, as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented supply challenges amid this uncertain environment. Additionally, despite states lifting stay-at-home orders and reopening, many blood drives at businesses and community organizations continue to be cancelled as these locations remain closed or restrict the number of individuals at any location.

As part of the partnership, the Red Cross is organizing an epic prop replica giveaway from the new Warner Bros. Pictures film WONDER WOMAN 1984, due to hit theaters nationwide on Oct. 2. This giveaway was designed to thank heroes who roll up a sleeve and help patients battling illness and injury. Those who show up to donate blood and platelets through July 31 will automatically be entered for a chance to win an authentic WONDER WOMAN 1984 movie prop replica package, which includes the Golden Lasso and a pair of Gauntlets, identical to WONDER WOMAN’s from the film.*

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Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood—kids battling cancer, accident victims being raced into emergency rooms and new moms with complicated childbirths. The Northern Ohio Blood Services Region needs to collect approximately 500 pints of blood to meet the needs of patients at more than 70 local hospitals. Unfortunately, only 3 out of 100 Americans donate blood.

While tens of thousands of donors gave blood in response to an initial blood shortage caused by this coronavirus outbreak, it’s important to remember that red blood cells must be transfused within 42 days of donation, and platelets within just five days, so they must constantly be replenished. If you are feeling well, please make an appointment to give by using the Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Scheduling Skill on any Alexa Echo device. Blood and platelet donors in Northern Ohio can also visit one of three donation centers, located in Cleveland, Parma or Akron.

Blood Donation during COVID-19

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arrival and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance, as well as following recent mandates from the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.

Donors can save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®. With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

In most states, individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

 

*Terms and conditions apply. Valid email address is required. Limit five (5) entries per presenting donor. Winner will be selected and notified via the email listed in their American Red Cross donor profile on or around Aug. 10, 2020. Offer is non-transferable and not redeemable for cash. Void where prohibited. Giveaway begins July 1, 2020 and ends July 31, 2020. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries are not responsible for the promotion, administration or execution of this giveaway.

Edited By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Sandusky resident shows age is just a number when it comes to donating blood

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

April 29, 2020- Ken Fultz is proof positive you’re never too old to save a life, or two, or three.

The spry Sanduskian, who celebrated his 90th birthday in March, did his part for others during this COVID-19 emergency by giving blood at a recent American Red Cross blood drive.

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Ken Fultz

“You know, I would do it again tomorrow if they (would) let me,” Ken said. “Everyone there knew what they were doing, and I got thanked over and over again.”

And well he should be thanked. Under the “stay home and save a life” rules to slow the spread of the deadly virus, scores of blood drives have been cancelled across northern Ohio. But the need for blood never stops, for accident victims; moms and newborns in difficult deliveries; surgery and cancer patients; and men, women and children who rely on transfusions for a healthy life.

“Dad has always been my hero,” Ken’s daughter, Sally Carter, said. “He has always put his family first and his community a close second.

“When the COVID-19 virus started to spread, it was hard to keep him inside and safe. When he suggested maybe he could give blood, we made the necessary phone calls to make it happen.”

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Ken with his daughter Sally Carter

And while he was at it, Ken encouraged four other family members to donate blood along with him.

Donating blood was nothing new for Ken: His next donation – which could be as soon as late June – will put him into the 10 Gallon Club. That will mean he’s given 80 units of blood! And if each of those units was separated into red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, that amounts to as many as 240 lives saved!

Ken’s generosity isn’t limited to life saving. For more than 25 years, until last fall – at the age of 89 – he delivered Meals on Wheels to an eager group of shut-ins. And he delivered flowers from Zion Lutheran Church to Firelands Regional Medical Center faithfully every week until the hospital had to stop all visits as an infection precaution.

Ken Fultz

“It’s people like Ken who step forward to help others that are the heart and soul of the Red Cross,” said Christy Peters, northern Ohio regional biomedical communications manager. “They are genuine humanitarians, giving the gift of life.”

To find the date, time and location of your nearest Red Cross blood drive, call 1-800-REDCROSS or access RedCrossBlood.org.  Or you can text BLOODAPP to 90999 or search “Red Cross Blood” on the App Store or Goggle Play to get the free Blood Donor App.

 

Blood donors and drives help Red Cross maintain nation’s blood supply

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

April 9, 2019- Thanks to the many donors who gave blood and scheduled upcoming appointments, and to the sponsors of blood drives during this uncertain time, the American Red Cross has been able to meet immediate patient needs. We encourage individuals to keep their scheduled blood donation appointments and to make new appointments for the weeks ahead to ensure a stable supply throughout this pandemic.

Donating blood is essential to ensuring the health of our communities. The need for blood is constant, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need.

Blood drives across Northern Ohio, such as the one held at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, provide an opportunity for blood donors to donate lifesaving blood at a convenient location.

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“Its been incredibly encouraging, and we’re very thankful to the community for their continued support in the midst of so much uncertainty,” said Christy Peters, external communications manager, Northern Ohio Biomedical Services.

Following a very successful blood drive on March 27, which saw 135 pints of blood donated, officials at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse decided to hold another blood drive on April 7. The decision to hold another blood drive proved to be the right decision as the community showed their generosity by filing into the arena once again to donate blood to help others in need.

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Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse will be holding another blood drive on April 24.

Similar stories are being told across the Northern Ohio Region of local communities coming together to ensure the blood supply is well maintained for those who are in need, such as patients undergoing cancer treatment.

On April 8, Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan joined residents to donate blood at the blood drive being held at the Joy Park Community Center.

Akron Mayor

Mayor Daniel Horrigan

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control. To ensure the health of employees, volunteers and staff, precautions include checking temperatures of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy, providing hand sanitizer for use before the drive, as well as throughout the donation process, following social distancing between donors including entry, donation and refreshment areas, routinely disinfecting surfaces, equipment and donor-touched areas, wearing gloves, and changing gloves often, using sterile collection sets and an aseptic scrub for every donation and staff wearing basic face masks.

Blood donation is essential to ensuring the health of our communities. The need for blood is constant, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need.

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Every day patients rely on lifesaving blood transfusions including those who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer. Right now, people are following public health guidance to keep their families safe and that includes contributing to a readily available supply of blood for hospitals.

This is the time to take care of one another. If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment to donate by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

First time donor gives blood to aid with shortage

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

March 25, 2020- The COVID-19 outbreak is all anyone can talk about in Northeast Ohio. Beyond the immediate health emergency, the virus is threatening to create additional future public health emergencies due to the current blood shortage.

As of March 23, about 7,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in more than 200,000 fewer blood donations. This is why the Red Cross is asking all healthy and eligible individuals to donate lifesaving blood.

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Jenna Ostrowski with Regional CEO Mike Parks

On March 20, the Cleveland Clinic lent a helping hand to put an end to the blood shortage by opening their doors to host a much needed blood drive.

One of the donors present at the blood drive was Jenna Ostrowski, a medical technologist in the Automated Hematology Department. This moment was a milestone for Jenna, as she was a first time blood donor, who was motivated to take the leap to officially become a blood donor due to the need following the outbreak.

“I figured now is the time, since so many people need blood. It’s a good opportunity for caregivers since the drive is right here at the Clinic,” stated Jenna.

Red Cross of Northeast Ohio Regional CEO Mike Parks was present at the blood drive, thanking Cleveland Clinic President Tomislav Mihaljevic for opening the Cleveland Clinic’s doors to host the blood drive and to thank donors like Jenna for giving the gift of life.

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Tomislav Mihaljevic speaking with Mike Parks

Everyone at the Red Cross understands why people may be hesitant to come out for a blood drive, but we want to assure the public that we are taking additional precautions to ensure the safety of our donors, volunteers and staff.

Volunteers and staff are checking the temperature of  everyone before they enter a drive to make sure they are healthy. Hand sanitizer is available for use before entering the drive, as well as throughout the donation process. We are also spacing beds, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between blood donors.

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Red Cross employees follow strict safety procedures, including wearing gloves and changing them often, wiping down all donor-touched surfaces and equipment and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.

If you are a first-time donor, like Jenna, click here to learn some helpful best practices.

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If you are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give blood or platelets, please make an appointment to donate as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

To view more photos from the Cleveland Clinic blood drive, visit the Northeast Ohio Region Flickr page.

My first attempt to donate blood

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

Editors note: The American Red Cross now faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during this coronavirus outbreak.  Through March 17, nearly 4,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in more than 100,000 fewer blood donations. Healthy individuals are needed to donate now to help patients counting on lifesaving blood.

March 18, 2020- You’ve seen the advertisements and signs before—the ones that list upcoming American Red Cross blood drives in your area. You may drive past the sign on your way home or see something about a local drive on your social media feed. Like many people, I am not fond of needles. This is why for many years I went without donating blood.

This year, I was determined to put my nerves aside to take part in my first blood drive. I found a local site and signed up for a time slot, hoping that scheduling an appointment would help avoid any lines. When I arrived, there were several people donating and several more getting their screenings completed.

Blood bank Campaign ceremony 2017

Laurie Brungeau giving blood during the launch of the Haitian Red Cross blood collection center in Port-au-Prince. The Haitian Red Cross suffered serious damage during the earthquake, but thanks to their hard work–and capacity-building investments from partners like the American Red Cross — they have stregthened and become more sustainable over the years. Photo: Garry Calixte/American Red Cross

After registering and completing my pre-screening, it was time to donate. The nurse asked me which arm I prefer, to which I answered, “Whichever arm that you can find a vein.” The nurse asked me if I have had trouble with nurses finding my veins in the past. They have but I didn’t think that would be an issue for donating. These volunteers do this regularly and are pros, right?

While the nurses at the donation site were, in fact, seasoned experts, the two nurses who checked still had trouble finding a viable vein to use in my arm. Out of caution for my well-being, they told me I wasn’t able to donate. I was incredibly disappointed that of all reasons to be turned away as a donor, it was my lack of a viable vein!

Blood Drive New York 2018

This experience showed me just how important it is for those who can donate blood to do so. After sharing my experience with a few friends, I learned that many of them had similar experiences. From my friends and the nurses at the blood drive, I learned a few best practices I wanted to share for those looking to donate:

  • Drink lots of water before you donate – the day before and the day of your donation.
  • Avoid caffeine to avoid detracting from #1.
  • The magic number for your iron level is 12.5. They test this before you actually start your donation to make sure you have the minimum level.
  • Complete the RapidPass online before you donate to save time at the blood donation location. This contains the pre-donation packet reading and health history questions donors need to complete.
  • Bring some music or reading when you donate. It only takes 8-10 minutes to do the actual blood donation but having something to do can help pass the time, especially if you are nervous.

Knowing these things, I plan to go back again soon to see if I can donate. I hope my story encourages you to donate as well.

Blood Drive, Fairfax, Virginia 2018

Currently, there is an urgent need for blood due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Right now, eligible and healthy donors are strongly urged to make an appointment to give soon. To schedule an appointment and for information on enhanced blood donation safety related to Coronavirus, visit: https://www.redcrossblood.org.

For those who can’t donate, the Red Cross offers volunteer opportunities to support  blood drives. You can learn more about these at: https://www.redcross.org/local/ohio/northeast/volunteer.html.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Enjoy the open road as you help save lives

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

January 10, 2020- Do you enjoy the freedom of driving on the open road? Are you always volunteering to drive around family and friends? Are you looking for an opportunity to help save lives, while enjoying your love of driving? Well, you are in luck!

Volunteer Couriers

The American Red Cross is currently looking for passionate drivers to serve as volunteer transportation specialists in Cuyahoga County. This unique opportunity allows volunteers to support blood pick-up at both mobile and fixed site blood drives in Cuyahoga County.

The Red Cross collects and distributes about 40% of our nation’s blood supply. As a volunteer transportation specialist, when you pick up blood, platelets or other blood products from a blood collection site or deliver them to a hospital, you’re delivering lifesaving hope to a person in need.

Volunteer Couriers

Still not sure if this is quite the right fit? Listen to Peter Hoffman, one of the transportation specialists in Cuyahoga County. Hear why Peter volunteers with the Red Cross, some of his tasks and the feeling he gets from helping others in need.

For more information and to apply to become a volunteer transportation specialist, visit redcross.org/volunteer or call 216-431-3328.

 

N_tice _nything missing? Help the Red Cross fill the Missing Types

By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Northern Ohio Blood Region

June 13, 2019- When the letters A, B and O vanish from everyday life, the gaps are striking. And when A, B, O and AB blood types are missing from hospital shelves, lives could be changed forever.

MT 2019_InfographicOn June 11 the American Red Cross partnered with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to launch the Missing Types campaign to raise awareness of the need for new and current blood donors to donate and help ensure blood is available for patients in need this summer. The O’s in Long Live Rock disappeared during the launch, to illustrate the critical role every blood donor plays in ensuring the main blood groups – A, B and O, are available whenever and wherever needed.

A sad truth is only 3 out of 100 Americans donate blood each year, but every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. If more people roll up a sleeve to give, blood shortages can be prevented.

Why blood donors are needed

Tymia McCullough relies on blood donations to help battle sickle cell disease, an inherited disease that causes red blood cells to form in an abnormal crescent shape. Sickle cell disease patients can suffer a range of conditions, including acute anemia, tissue and organ damage, terrible pain and even strokes.

With no widely used cure, regular blood transfusions are one of the most common treatments for sickle cell disease. At one time, when McCullough arrived at the hospital, the blood type she needed for her transfusion was not available.

“It was the scariest, most frightening moment of a mother’s life, because I thought that she would not be able to get it,” said Susie Pitts, Tymia’s mother. “In that moment, in that experience, I was very afraid. I was scared for my daughter’s life ─ what was going to happen if she didn’t get the blood she needed?”

Eight hours later, the nurse came running through the door with the needed blood product.

Again, this past fall Tymia experienced a painful sickle cell crisis and needed to wait 10 long hours for the hospital to locate the blood she needed for her treatment. Thankfully, Tymia is better today, yet her experience illustrates the ongoing need for blood, and at times, the frightening reality patients face when needed blood supplies become critically low.

Make a difference today

  • Spread the word
  • Write out your name with the A’s, B’s and O’s missing on the “blank” selfie sign, and take a photo with it. (Underscores are recommended. Example: _meric_n Red Cr_ss. Basic directions are also posted at the previous link for your convenience.)
  • Visit RedCrossBlood.org to share a Missing Types message on your social media.

Commit about an hour of your day to give blood and help save a life. Patients need you.

Six things to know before donating:

  1. You don’t need to know your blood type.
    According to a national survey conducted earlier this year on behalf of the Red Cross, more than half (54%) of people believe they need to know their blood type to donate blood. This is simply untrue.
  2. Hydrate – drink an extra 16 oz. of liquid before and after donating.
  3. Enjoy a healthy meal rich in iron and vitamin C before donating – avoid foods high in fat just prior to donation.
  4. Wear comfortable clothing with sleeves that can be raised above the elbow.
  5. Complete a RapidPass on the day of donation, prior to arriving, to save time.
  6. Remember to bring an ID.

Help fill in the missing types this summer. Schedule a donation appointment now.

Click here to visit out Flickr account to view photos from the Missing Type kick-off event at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Our thanks to Joann Fabric and Craft Stores for providing the material used to cover the letter “O” in the Long Live Rock sculpture.

This article was edited by Glenda Bogar,  American Red Cross volunteer

Premier Partner Program & sponsors

By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Northern Ohio Blood Region

March 25, 2019- Recently, the American Red Cross presented Kalahari Resorts & Conventions with its Premier Blood Drive Partner award. The Premier Partner program recognizes blood drive sponsors who have collected at least 50 pints in a year. Last year, Kalahari collected 115 pints of lifesaving blood for local patients.

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Kalahari Resorts & Conventions recently received the Premier Blood Drive Partner Award earlier this year. L to R: Angie Reyes, HR Director, Iryna Pylypenko, Employment Manager, Mary Ann Benton, Brian Shanle, General Manager

More than 80 percent of blood donations are made at blood drives organized by volunteer sponsor groups and coordinators. Right now, blood drive hosts are needed for spring and throughout the year. A blood drive is a commitment to help meet the needs of seriously ill or injured patients. Blood products are essential for the treatment of accident victims, surgical and sickle cell disease patients, those receiving cancer treatments, premature babies and others.

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James Lassiter III of Garfield Heights donated blood at a recent Kalahari hosted blood drive in February

Every single day, the Northern Ohio Blood Services Region needs to collect 500 pints of blood to meet the needs of patients at more than 50 local hospitals. This cannot happen without the support of blood drive sponsors. Become a blood drive sponsor and help save lives! To learn more about hosting a blood drive, visit https://www.redcrossblood.org/hosting-a-blood-drive/learn-about-hosting/why-host-a-blood-drive.html or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).