Just like every blood donor has his or her own special reason for giving blood, every American Red Cross staff member has his or her own special reason for dedicating themselves to the organization’s lifesaving mission.
The men and women who work directly with blood and platelet donors are honored each year during Blood Collectors Week. From September 9 – 15, 2012, the Red Cross is joining AABB and Fenwal, Inc. to recognize and celebrate the critical role of blood collectors in helping to ensure blood products are available for patients in need.
The Red Cross provides approximately 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply, and 17,000 pints of blood are needed on average each day. That means staff members may meet thousands of donors over the course of their careers. But, no matter how many donors a staff member works with over the course of a day or a year, special memories are made.
“Many years ago, I had a woman attempt to donate who had been deferred several times for low iron, so she asked me to do the iron test first,” remembers Isaac Perez, a Red Cross collections technician in Kansas. “After I told her she passed the iron test, she was so excited that she jumped out of her chair and said, ‘We’re off like Jackie Gleason. Let’s go.’ She headed right over to give blood, but I had to have her come back and complete the health history. I don’t know what that phrase meant, but I will never forget how happy she was to be able to give blood.”
Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. It’s a staggering statistic. When you add up the number of recipients plus their family members and friends, it means that millions of people nationwide are touched by the generosity of blood donors and the hard work and dedication of Red Cross staff. All blood product recipients are close to the hearts of Red Cross staff, but some recipients are remarkably close to home, too.
Red Cross Apheresis Collections Specialist Luis Marcos works in Nebraska. He remembers one time when the importance of his job hit especially close to home.
“I went to visit a friend who had just given birth in the hospital,” said Marcos. “There was a unit of blood hanging next to her. I was able to put a human face to the work that I do.”
“I needed many red cells and platelets as a teenager,” says Tracy Holder, RN, a collections supervisor in Arkansas. “That difficult time led me to pursue a nursing degree and then work at the American Red Cross. I am reminded every day of the difference donors made in helping save my life and of my personal commitment to helping others in need.”
THANK A BLOOD COLLECTOR The Red Cross salutes the blood collectors whose commitment to helping save lives brings hope to patients and their families. The need for blood is constant. Visit a Red Cross blood drive or blood donation center this week to thank the dedicated men and women who help fulfill the organization’s mission and to make a lifesaving blood donation.
HOW TO GIVE To schedule a donation time, or for more information about giving blood, you can call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), 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.