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Volunteers Take the Wheel to Deliver Lifesaving Blood to Patients

Noel Macek - Volunteer Transportaion Specialist

The American Red Cross is looking for volunteer transportation specialists to help save lives in their local communities by delivering blood products to area hospitals.

Transportation specialists help ensure that blood products are available when and where they are needed for patients with serious medical conditions. Accident and burn victims, heart surgery patients, organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease may all need blood or platelets.

A REWARDING EFFORT One volunteer already filling this important role is 82-year-old Noel Macek of Omaha, Nebraska, who averages about 14,000 miles a year. Macek started volunteering as a blood driver after someone working on a Red Cross disaster response mentioned they were needed.

“That very same day, I came down here and demanded I be made a driver immediately – no messing around,” said Macek. “I have been doing it ever since.”

Macek’s favorite part of volunteering as a Red Cross transportation specialist is delivering blood products to hospitals. “That smile that they provide is worth all the effort,” he said.

“A day may be just a few miles or it may be several hundred miles, but it’s very rewarding, very heartwarming – something I like to do.”

As the holiday season approaches, Macek is prepared to answer the call whenever it may come. Most holidays he starts or ends his day with a delivery. Macek knows that patients are counting on lifesaving blood products no matter the day of the year.

“When a patient comes into a hospital with a need, we’re part of that circle of being able to get that product back to that hospital to fulfill that need,” said Macek. “To me it doesn’t make a difference whether it’s daytime, nighttime, holiday or weekend. It all gives the same satisfaction of being able to get that product to the hospital when a patient is in need.”

VOLUNTEERS MAKE A DIFFERENCE Volunteers carry out 90 percent of the humanitarian work of the Red Cross. One of the many Red Cross volunteer opportunities includes the transportation specialist role. Transportation specialists help deliver lifesaving blood products from donation sites to manufacturing facilities, testing labs and hospital partners.

“The Red Cross is a great place to volunteer,” said Macek. “To be able to go someplace else, to do something for somebody else, to make somebody else smile, it is so rewarding. There is such a void that needs to be filled – you would enjoy doing it.”

Find out more, or join the Red Cross as a volunteer.

DONATE BLOOD OR PLATELETS As the 2016 holiday season approaches, the Red Cross encourages eligible donors to donate blood or platelets. Blood and platelet donations decline from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day as people become busy with festive activities.

Make an appointment today by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Ready To Donate

Find a drive and schedule a blood donation appointment today.