“You give money all the time, but this is a tangible thing when I can do something as a volunteer. It feels more personal and meaningful to me.”
- Mark Morrison
By Dana Simmons, American Red Cross
In May 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mark Morrison learned about the need for volunteer Blood Transportation Specialists and since then he has "drove” towards the opportunity to carry precious cargo to patients in need.
The American Red Cross collects and distributes about 40% of our nation’s blood supply, but it takes teamwork to carry out this mission. Blood Transportation Specialists have the crucial role of delivering lifesaving blood products from Red Cross distribution facilities to hospitals. When blood, platelets or other blood products are delivered to a hospital, a patient is also delivered hope when they need it most.
The Transportation Specialist role was a “perfect fit” for Mark for several reasons. He was given an excuse to get out of the house during the beginning of the pandemic, he can schedule his own hours and lean into something he loves doing – driving! “I love driving. I will drive anywhere, anytime, anybody,” Mark shares.
Mark began his Transportation Specialist journey delivering stat orders, otherwise known as immediate or rush orders usually needed in emergency situations. Mark’s shift would typically start by sitting at the Kearny Mesa Blood Donation Center reading a book or using his phone, but when a stat order came in, he had a great responsibility to fulfill – deliver lifesaving blood to a patient in need. “I won’t race and rush through traffic, but I’ll drive expeditiously with a mission to accomplish,” Mark said. Mark has since transitioned from delivering stat orders and now has a Thursday morning route that he drives from 6:45 to 10:45 a.m. Out of nearly 19 hospitals that the Kearny Mesa Blood Donation Center delivers to, Mark has been to nearly 16 hospitals to deliver blood products.
Mark explained the appreciation and gratitude he is shown as a volunteer keeps him coming back. “People give you space. They see Red Cross on the vehicle and they give me the right of way,” he said. Respect on the roads isn’t the only affirmation that Mark receives during his shifts. The lab workers at the hospitals also show great appreciation upon his arrival and always take a minute to smile and acknowledge his job. “Sometimes lab workers would say ‘hooray’ when I would drop off the blood. They were waiting and here it is,” Mark shared. “Someday it might be my child or my wife on the operating table, waiting for this certain type of blood that I’ve got.”
In addition to giving his money and his time, Mark also “gives from the wealth of his good health” through blood donation. Since May of 2020, Mark has donated blood every eight weeks and is inspired to continue donating by the feeling he gets when he donates and the statistic that one blood donation can save more than one life. Mark is excited to continue his work within the Red Cross a place where he feels “so at home and welcomed” and he is eager to volunteer in more capacities and eventually become a platelet donor as well. Mark holds volunteering very close to his heart, “You give money all the time, but this is a tangible thing when I can do something as a volunteer. It feels more personal and meaningful to me.”
Transportation Specialists are asked to commit to at least two shifts per month and must have a valid state driver’s license and proof of insurance. Additional requirements are at least three years of driving experience, a clean driving record and the ability to lift up to 45 pounds. For more information or to apply to be a Transportation Specialist, visit redcross.org/volunteer.