COVID-19 convalescent plasma donor bio: Jillian O’Donnell

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

May 13, 2020- Jillian O’Donnell lives in Columbus where she works as a registered nurse. She enjoys spending time with her family and taking her dog to fun places around the city. In March, Jillian experienced the sudden onset loss of her taste and smell. After talking with her sister, she discovered this was a new symptom being reported by COVID-19 patients. Because she is an essential worker, she decided to get tested before returning to work. Her test came back positive on March 25.

IMG_7251

Jillian O’Donnell

In coordination with the FDA, the Red Cross is seeking people who are fully recovered from the new coronavirus to sign up to donate plasma to help current COVID-19 patients. According to Jillian, when she heard about the process of giving convalescent plasma, it was a no-brainer to find out how and when she could donate. Jillian traveled two hours from Columbus to make her donation at an American Red Cross donation center in Akron, Ohio.

“As a nurse that works on a COVID-19 isolation unit, I have seen firsthand how this virus has negatively affected individuals,” said Jillian. “I am beyond thankful that I had very mild symptoms that I managed at home, on my own. I know that is not the case for many others.”

IMG_7256

People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus. This convalescent plasma is being evaluated as treatment for patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections, or those judged by a healthcare provider to be at high risk of progression to severe or life-threatening disease.

“We are blessed to be survivors of this terrible virus and not everyone has that opportunity,” said Jillian. “Everyone deserves a fighting chance against this virus and donating plasma can give patients the opportunity to do that!”

Last week, two more convalescent plasma donor patients gave plasma to help others at our Akron blood donor center: Jane Krivos and Josh Nathaniel.

IMG_7270

Jane Krivos

IMG_7285

Josh Nathaniel

To participate, individuals must meet all regular blood donation requirements as well as others. To learn more and complete a donor request form, please visit www.RedCrossBlood.org/plasma4covid.

Photo credit: Eric Alves/American Red Cross

Red Cross continues to respond to local disasters virtually

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

April 27, 2020- For everyone in Northern Ohio, and across the world, COVID-19 has changed many aspects of everyday life and forced us to adapt to this new normal. However, one aspect that COVID-19 could not change was the fact that emergencies do not take breaks.

Regardless of the pandemic, local disasters, such as home fires, are still occurring and the Red Cross’ mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies must go on. However, the Red Cross has had to find a new way to provide the Red Cross assistance that many rely on following an emergency.

Safety for Red Cross Disaster Action Team members and the residents we are assist is our number on priority. While we no longer can give a hug or a handshake due to social distancing, it does not mean the renowned comfort the Red Cross is known for has to stop.

thumbnail_IMG_2156

The Red Cross has come up with new and inventive ways to deliver the much-needed assistance to those who are experiencing the worst day of their lives:

  • We have screening questions that we ask our clients before we respond, to protect our volunteers and our clients.
  • We can conduct interviews over the phone, to ensure that we have a timely response in order to meet their needs and get them assistance in the form of shelter, food, clothing, disaster health services or disaster mental health services.
  • We have the capability to conduct video interviews, so the client sees the smile, and the helping demeanor of our volunteers.
  • We have developed ways to deliver cards loaded with financial assistance to a location of the client’s choosing, always with the safety and health of our volunteer and clients at the forefront.
  • We also have volunteer caseworkers who will work with our clients on the phone to connect them with community partners.

Over the weekend, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio virtually assisted 13 adults, 6 children and provided more than $3,500 in immediate financial assistance.

The Northern Ohio Region will be hosting two virtual volunteer information sessions this week. The two sessions, tomorrow, April 28 5:30-6:30 p.m. and Wednesday, April 29 12-1 p.m., will provide you an opportunity to learn how you can make a difference by providing disaster response assistance, assisting at blood drives which keep our nation’s blood supply stable and providing support to our military, veterans and their families

The information sessions will take place online.

For more information and to RSVP, contact Melanie Collins at (330) 204-6615 or melanie.collins4@redcross.org.

 

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.

IMG_0090

“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.

IMG_0094

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.

IMG_0093

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.

49680779247_672010821e_c

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.

49680488646_24fb7f1573_c

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.

49680489446_554a1c3570_c

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.

49680813507_abfe643018_c

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.

Red Cross urges Northeast Ohio residents to practice and prepare for future disasters

COVID-19 social distancing measures provide opportunity to be prepared

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

March 23, 2020 — As individuals and families remain at home at a higher rate due to the COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing measures, the American Red Cross is urging all Northeast Ohio residents to take the time to prepare for future disasters.

Sound the Alarm Event in Capitol Heights, Maryland 2019

Here are some safety tips to practice and follow while everyone is home together:

Home Fire Safety

Home Fire Save Story Birmingham, Alabama 2019

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  • Test smoke alarms every month. If they’re not working, change the batteries.
  • Talk with all family members about a home fire escape plan, make sure everyone has two exits out of every room.
  • Practice your fire escape plan and have everyone meet at the designated safe location. Make sure everyone escapes in two minutes or less.

Flood Safety

2002 Tropical Storm Isidore

Tornado Safety

Tennessee Tornadoes 2020

  • Talk about tornadoes with your family so that everyone knows where to go if a tornado warning is issued.
  • Ensure you have access to NOAA Radio broadcasts.
  • Prepare a pet emergency kit for your furry friends.

Thunderstorm Safety

  • Discuss thunderstorm safety and lightning safety with all members of your household.
  • Pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather during a thunderstorm. This should be away from windows, skylights and glass doors.
  • Make a list of items to bring inside in the event of a severe thunderstorm.

Sound the Alarm Event in Capitol Heights, Maryland 2019

Visit redcross.org to learn more emergency preparedness tips to ensure you and your family are Red Cross ready. Be sure to download the free Red Cross mobile apps, available in the Apple App Store or Google Play, for tools and preparedness information you need every day.

Healthy blood donors needed amid coronavirus concerns

March 11, 2020- With confirmed coronavirus disease cases in Northeast Ohio and the state of Ohio declaring a state of emergency, and with schools across the region closed and events postponed due to precautions, the American Red Cross strongly urges healthy, eligible individuals who are feeling well to give blood or platelets to help maintain a sufficient blood supply and prevent shortages as concerns about the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, rise in the U.S.

Cold and flu season has already impacted the nation’s ability to maintain its blood supply. As the number of coronavirus cases grows in the U.S., the number of people eligible to give blood for patients in need could decrease further.

“We’re asking the American people to help keep the blood supply stable during this challenging time. As communities across the country prepare for this public health emergency, it’s critical that plans include a readily available blood supply for hospital patients,” said Chris Hrouda, president, Red Cross Blood Services. “As fears of coronavirus rise, low donor participation could harm blood availability at hospitals, and the last thing a patient should worry about is whether lifesaving blood will be on the shelf when they need it most.”

help-maintain-the-blood-supply

Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood. There are no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmissible by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases worldwide of transmissions for any respiratory virus, including this coronavirus, from a transfusion.

The Red Cross only collects blood from individuals who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation – and who meet other eligibility requirements, available at RedCrossBlood.org. At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees follow thorough safety protocols including wearing gloves, routinely wiping down donor-touched areas, using sterile collection sets for every donation, and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub. These mitigation measures will help ensure blood recipient safety, as well as staff and donor safety in reducing contact with those who may potentially have this respiratory infection.

Blood drive hosts play important role
Blood drive hosts also play a critical role in maintaining a sufficient blood supply and are asked to keep hosting blood drives for patients who rely on lifesaving blood. The need for blood is constant, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need of transfusions.

The Red Cross, with the help of its blood drive hosts and blood donors, can help ensure the safety and availability of the U.S. blood supply for patients including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

“Keep giving, keep hosting blood drives,” said Hrouda. “Patients across the country need our help.”

To learn more about hosting a blood drive for patients in need, please visit RedCrossBlood.org.

coronavirus-safety-fb (2)

Red Cross committed to blood supply safety

The top priority of the Red Cross is the safety of our valued staff, blood donors and blood recipients, and we are committed to transparency with the American public during this evolving public health emergency. There are no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmissible by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases worldwide of transmissions for any respiratory virus including this coronavirus, from a transfusion.

Nonetheless, the Red Cross has implemented new blood donation deferrals out of an abundance of caution. Individuals are asked to postpone their donation for 28 days following:

  • Travel to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Iran, Italy and South Korea;
  • Diagnosis of COVID-19, contact with a person who has or is suspected to have the virus.

As the situation evolves, the Red Cross will continue to evaluate all emerging risks in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and industry partners to determine if additional intervention strategies are needed. Together, we stand ready to keep the American public informed and prepared.

Blood donation process

A blood donation takes about an hour from start to finish, but the actual donation itself only takes about 8-10 minutes. Donors can also 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.

To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (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 must meet certain height and weight requirements.