Blood Drive Birthday Party – “It’s the Best Gift to Give Back”

photo 4Rather than toasting champagne on her 50th birthday, Beth Dustman raised a cupcake to raise her blood sugar level with friends at the American Red Cross.

“We wanted to do something meaningful on our birthdays,” said Beth, joined by Winnetka friends Beverly Petersen, Midge Hano and Kim Falk, who all rolled up a sleeve with Beth to give blood. Kim arranged for the birthday party at a blood drive by the Red Cross in Chicago where her husband, Scott Falk, serves on the organization’s Board of Directors.

“It’s the best gift to give back,” said Beth, surrounded by her friends, and a nod to her father who had leukemia and needed blood.  She holds a sign she wrote that reads, “In celebration of life and friendship.”

Like Beth, the Red Cross is also celebrating a milestone birthday this year marking 100 years of service to Chicago. You can give the gift of blood by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Every 2 seconds someone needs blood and 1 pint can save up to 3 lives.

Story and photo by: Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois 

Nanny Saves a Life With Infant CPR: “Training Turns Helplessness Into a Fighting Chance”

Health and Safety Stock ImagesLynn Lindquist took a pediatric first aid class so she could be a good nanny to six-month-old Jack.

One day Jack was feeding himself pieces of watermelon when he began choking. Lynn allowed Jack to cough at first, but when his breathing became labored she snatched him from the high chair, and turned him over to start the back blow maneuver she learned from her American Red Cross instructor. The piece dislodged and Lynn was relieved to hear Jack cry. A few calming breaths and many hugs later, Jack was happy and giggling again.

“The steps drilled by our instructor, Ed, kicked in when I needed them,” said Lynn. “Red Cross CPR training turns helplessness into a fighting chance. You need to be able to do the best you can for children.”

Lynn is one of many child care providers who have completed a Red Cross class in the Chicago region who would agree infant first aid is a vital skill to know. Even with constant supervision, babies can choke on food or a small toy. They can slip under water in a bathtub or a shallow pool. Infant CPR training ensures you’re prepared, like Lynn was for baby Jack.

“The thing about learning CPR skills from the Red Cross is that it prepares you to act without over thinking it,” she said. “It’ll give you courage to act when you might not have the confidence to help someone in need.”

CPR uses chest compressions and rescue breaths so oxygen-rich blood circulates through the brain and other vital organs until emergency medical personnel arrive.

Lynn encourages everyone to take a Red Cross CPR class to be prepared to help save a life of any age. The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago offers a variety of First Aid/CPR/AED courses and safety tips. Visit http://www.chicagoredcross.org/ for more information.

Written by: Amisha Sud, American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer

Hundreds Roll Up a Sleeve to Give at the 100th Anniversary Blood Drive

KHill_oKyle Bellin has been donating blood every three to six months for as long as he can remember. He knows his donation is needed and can help save a life.

“Just do it, why not? There is no reason not to. It’s quick and it’s easy,” he said.

Kyle joined hundreds of blood donors who rolled up a sleeve Jan. 21 at the American Red Cross 100th Anniversary Blood Drive at Union Station. The event was the start of a year-long celebration to mark a century of service of the Red Cross in Chicago. More than 430 units of blood were collected in one of the largest day-long blood drives during National Blood Donor Month.

The overwhelming turnout will help keep a steady supply of blood available, which can be challenging during the winteroverview_o
months amid cold and flu season or cancelled appointments from inclement weather. The need for blood is great when you factor in more than 41,000 donations are needed every day to meet the demands of patients nationwide. Providing lifesaving blood and blood products to patients is a key component of the Red Cross mission to help people in times of emergency and disasters.

“If you believe in karma, it’s a good way to give back,” said blood donor John Pabich.John_o

Lori Wade, whose daughter works with the Red Cross, encouraged people, “to give it a try. It’s worth the time.”

Jim Dee, who has donated blood around 20-30 times in the past, donated double red blood cells for the first time. There are about one billion red blood cells in two to three drops of blood and they are the most transfusable component. Patients who benefit most from this include those with chronic anemia, trauma and surgery patients, or those with blood disorders such as sickle cell.

“This feels like the right thing to do and it barely hurts,” Jim said. “It’s an easy thing to do for people who need it in desperate situations.”

Doug Gornowich, who also donated double red blood cells, agreed. “Someone has to do it. It’s (the donation) is a small part of your day that makes a great difference.”

Vee_nApart from double red blood cells, donors also came forward to donate platelets. Veronica Vasquez, a Red Cross Blood Services
staff member, was one of them. Platelets are obtained by drawing blood from the donor into an apheresis instrument, which separates the blood into its components, retains some of the platelets, and returns the remainder of the blood to the donor. Patients who benefit most from platelets include those undergoing cancer treatments, organ transplants and surgical procedures.

The common reason across all donors was they gave blood because they wanted to help someone.  Many also understood the value of blood donations after watching a loved one need it.

Kiarra Hill, who donated on her birthday, had a friend who needed regular blood transfusions.

“Think about how many people you may be helping, including friends and family,” she said. “It doesn’t take long and you are saving so many lives.”

Muslims_oApart from individual donors, the blood drive also saw support from organizations such as ‘Muslims for Life’ who have been partnering with the Red Cross for several years by sponsoring and coordinating blood drives at malls, colleges, mosques and churches. Also present were a number of volunteers from Fresenius Kabi, a company that supplies blood packs and medical equipment to the Red Cross to collect platelets and red blood cells.

“Blood donation is something that should come without asking for it. You should do it because you want to do it,” said Shaun Connelly, after finishing his donation and walking to the refreshment table.

The Red Cross has also launched the Sleeves Up virtual blood drive this month which is a new online tool that allows you to create a virtual blood drive and encourage colleagues, friends and family members to give blood or platelets, or make a financial donation – no matter where they are located across the country.

For more details about blood donations or to sign up for an upcoming blood drive, please visit American Red Cross Biomedical Services. We look forward to seeing you at the next blood drive.

For more photos of the American Red Cross 100th Anniversary Blood Drive go to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chicagoredcross/sets/72157650418773425/

Written by: Amisha Sud, American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer

ComEd Employee Saves a Life with CPR: “You never know when, where and why you might need it”

IMG_2068.JPGCarlos Guevara, an Account Manager at ComEd, was enjoying a peaceful Sunday morning at his church when a fellow member suddenly collapsed outside.

Panic filled the place and people rushed to Eugene Parker, who fell to the ground. They tried to make him comfortable, but many didn’t know what else they could do to help Eugene.

But Carlos did. He knew CPR. Without hesitation, Carlos was at the Eugene’s side and took control.

Carlos worked for the Chicago Parks District 25 years ago where he first participated in CPR trainings. He interacted with many seniors and children and wanted to ensure his staff knew the basics of first aid in case of emergencies. Years later at ComEd, Carlos took the course again. His company offered it for employees through the American Red Cross where he was able to brush up on basic skills and learn some new techniques.

It’s a good thing he did. At the church, Carlos stepped in to comfort Eugene. Then Eugene stopped breathing and his eyes rolled back into his head. Carlos started CPR. He provided three chest compressions and three rescue breaths. He continued to assure Eugene he would be ok and stayed by his side until the wailing sirens signaled the arrival of the ambulance. Carlos briefed paramedics about the first aid he provided and stepped back to let them work.

“My hands were trembling when I walked back in the church and people started patting my back and saying, ‘You saved his life, you saved his life!’” Carlos said.

Carlos received a call later from Eugene’s father-in-law who said Eugene was recovering, and if it wasn’t been for Carlos’s quick action and knowledge of CPR, his son-in-law might not have survived. Eugene had so much to live for, the father-in-law told Carlos, who just married his daughter a week before the incident. Eugene’s family was grateful Carlos was there to help.

As a community partner of the Red Cross, ComEd offers CPR and First Aid education at no cost to staff. The Red Cross helps Chicago area residents prepare for emergencies at home and in the workplace through health and safety classes including First Aid, CPR and more. The Red Cross also provides certifications to organizations and companies like ComEd to equip their employees with the expertise to respond in a variety of first aid and cardiac situations until advanced medical personnel arrive.

Carlos, who has a four-month-old grandson, tells his co-workers, church members and others the importance of both pediatric and adult First Aid and CPR. He hopes his story inspires others to learn these lifesaving skills.

“Never be afraid to help somebody,” Carlos said. “Learn the basics of CPR and where you can apply it. You never know when, where and why you might need it.”

Written by Amisha Sud, American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer

Blood Drives and Biking Motivate Volunteer

Two things really Kathy Schubert bikerget volunteer Kathy Schubert moving – riding bikes and giving blood.

“I need a destination on my bike, so I’ll ride to a Red Cross blood drive,” Kathy said.

The avid cyclist has been a Red Cross blood drive volunteer coordinator since 2001, organizing one of her first events for the organization days after 9/11 when there was an urgent need for blood.

Kathy continues to bike to blood drives around Chicago and the DePaul University campus, recruiting donors and helping collect more than 5,000 pints over the years.

“I volunteer because people out there need my help,” she said.

Story and photo by Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Greater Chicago

Blood Donor Rolls Up His Sleeve for the 63rd Time

photoAmerican Red Cross volunteer Gerry Holmes believes donating blood is something significant he can do to help save lives.

Gerry first donated blood on his college campus when he was 18 years old. He had a good feeling knowing his blood helped someone in need back then, and still does today.

Since his college days, Gerry continues to roll up his sleeve three times a year at blood drives in the Greater Chicago Region. He has given blood 63 times over his lifetime, earning a 7 gallon pin in July 2014.

Congrats Gerry and thanksyou for helping save lives!

Story and photo by Catalina Alzate, American Red Cross Volunteer

“I’m Thankful the Red Cross Could Do Something For Us”

IMAG3211For 35-year-old Towanda Price, Thursday morning started out as just another day at work at a local restaurant.  But just minutes into her shift, she got a phone call that her Southside Chicago apartment was on fire.

Towanda’s son Terrance was at home sleeping at the time of the fire that started in the apartment above them. The 16-year-old inhaled some smoke, but got out safely.

Everything the family owned was completely soaked in water and ruined.  With almost nothing in the refrigerator, and a home that was inhabitable, Towanda was grateful the Red Cross quickly arrived on the scene.

“I’m thankful the Red Cross could do something for us,” she said. “I’m not sure what we could have done without their help.”

Both mom and son were tearful that they lost their home, but said help from the Red Cross, and words of encouragement from the dedicated volunteers, will help them get back on their feet.

Story and photo by Bob McCaffrey, American Red Cross Volunteer

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