By: Patrick DeLaney, Red Cross LA Volunteer
Anyone who has given blood with the American Red Cross before will likely remember the first time they volunteered to do so. Maybe you had an anxious feeling beforehand, or maybe you averted your eyes as it was going on. However, after a few moments a calming and friendly voice likely said something to the effect of, “Okay, you’re all set.” If it all seemed quicker and far less intimidating than you had initially thought it would be, that means that you were in the care of an excellent phlebotomist. Through their careful work, phlebotomists ensure that the life-saving blood you donate is quickly and safely prepared for those who need it
This year, Phlebotomists Recognition Week is celebrated from Feb. 13-17 and serves to acknowledge the professionals who provide such an essential service to their community. We here at the American Red Cross would like to take this opportunity to shine a spotlight on individuals who do this important work:
“I consider myself an instrument of care...”
For Anna, who currently works as a charge registered nurse in the Northern Valleys Chapter of the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region, her work as a phlebotomist is built on a main principle: a passion to help others. Though her work is providing crucial services through meticulous care, Anna views her work through a larger, more personal lens. “I consider myself an instrument in providing care, where I can hopefully ease any anxiety and answer any questions the donors may have.” To her, establishing the connection between the act, and the experience of donating blood with the Red Cross is integral.
So even though Anna’s work involves precise phlebotomist practices to ensure the safe transaction of blood donations, the personal and emotional element is an equally important element of the process. This mindset is critical to not only her work but the larger mission of the American Red Cross. Every donation center and event across the nation is made up of both professionals like her, and donors who are working together to achieve the goal of helping others in need.
As she puts it in regard to her current role, particularly as a charge nurse, “I am able to interact with donors and staff alike to facilitate and run an efficient blood drive.” Of course, that one blood drive has the capability of saving numerous lives, so we thank Anna for her continued dedication and invaluable efforts in serving her community.
"It brings me joy..."
There is a lot going on in our world today, which means that there is an almost constant call for care and comfort from those in need. And though that idea can seem somewhat overwhelming at times, phlebotomist LaShawn Fuller does not shy away from the challenge. She understands that emergencies can crop up at any time, whether it be a car accident or a natural disaster, and that every day, there is someone out there in need of blood donations. Not only does she seek to answer that call daily, but she does so with a huge smile on her face. “It brings me joy to know that I’m playing an important part in helping to save a life,” she says.
LaShawn views her work as a phlebotomist through the lens of potential impacts. By the simple act of collecting blood, she is plotting a course of service where those in need receive the care they need. So, whether she is collecting blood for donation as part of a mobile blood drive, or collecting a sample in a hospital setting from a patient that will help their doctor make important treatment decisions regarding specific health issues, she is always aware of the part she plays in the bigger picture.
Though LaShawn believes that every other role within the Red Cross is important, she is supremely happy doing what she is doing. “I can’t see myself anywhere else,” she explains, “I love and enjoy what I do.” Having someone as driven to serve as LaShawn is so important to the mission of the American Red Cross. We thank her for the essential services she provides in the Los Angeles region as a phlebotomist on the front lines of emergency situations here in our community.
“I’m a natural caregiver...”
Many go through life searching for their particular calling in life. Cynthia Viteri believes that she has found her purpose through her work with the American Red Cross, and as a phlebotomist. She won’t hesitate to tell how much she loves what she does, but she also points to something else that gives her work even more meaning. Having worked as a phlebotomist for 20 years—13 of those years with the Red Cross— she has found that her purpose helps donors and volunteers find theirs too.
She explains, “A lot of our donors come in because at some point in their lives, they needed blood for their family members, or themselves. Now they want to repay that gift in some way. I get to help them do just that.” By helping blood donors pay back the gift, or more often pay it forward, she helps foster a global community where more people can their purpose in helping others.
For Cynthia, her dedication to her work is inherent to all whom she interacts with. “I’m a natural caregiver,” she suggests. And as she continues her important work with mobile blood drives and other donor events, she also keeps an eye out for other ways she can help in the future. Disaster relief is one particular role that she could see herself in, in the future. “I would choose disaster relief because I would be able to help people in other ways,” she reasons. It is clear that whether she is drawing blood at a drive today, or venturing out into the field to provide relief in the future, her desire to provide service and care is unquestionable. We thank Cynthia for her continued service as a phlebotomist and valued American Red Cross team member.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
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