By Noreen Walton, American Red Cross volunteer
For March 2021 Volunteer of the Month, Thomas Morgan, the COVID-19 pandemic served as his inspiration for becoming a Red Cross volunteer. “I’d been a Red Cross platelet donor for many years,” Thomas explains. “Last April, I was donating platelets and got to thinking about how I could do more for Red Cross during the pandemic.”
Thomas “did more” by volunteering with the Red Cross Biomedical Blood Transportation team. His initial commitment of five hours a week in April soon grew to 25, then to 30, with Thomas completing 40-hour weeks in July, August and September.
Where does that level of commitment come from? Thomas cites two important sources. The first is family. “I took care of my parents right up until they died. I know what it is like to be in a hospital with a family member. How important hospital services are for patients and their families.”
The second source is Thomas’ 30-year career as a Navy pilot. “One of my tours was with Search and Rescue Medevac. I’ve experienced the feeling that comes with helping to save a life. I get that same feeling working with the Biomedical Blood Transportation team.”
In addition to delivering lifesaving blood to area hospitals, Thomas has taken on the work of training new Transportation Team volunteers. “The first step in the training is road testing. Making sure our volunteers are driving safely. We go over directions to hospitals and blood banks, and ways to deliver our products as quickly and safely as possible.” To date, Thomas has trained 38 new Transportation Specialist volunteers. “Our team of drivers regularly services 13 facilities, with the possibility of delivering to just about any other hospital in the San Diego region that needs a blood product from the Red Cross.”
Thomas speaks with pride about the life-saving work of his team. “A lot of our deliveries are routine orders from hospitals. We do those every day, 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. Then we have STAT orders. These orders could be for a trauma patient or a patient on the transplant list whose donor organ has finally arrived. The hospital calls in a specific order of blood products. We need to assemble the products, pack them, and get them to the facility as quickly as possible.” He pauses. “I remember one night when we made four separate trips to Scripps La Jolla as doctors worked to save a trauma patient’s life.”
“Delivering hope to people where they need it most” is how Thomas Morgan describes the work of the Red Cross. It is a fitting description.
The American Red Cross currently has an urgent need for Blood Transportation Specialist volunteers. To learn more and to become a Red Cross volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer.