Diane Calamaras Honored as American Red Cross 2016 Blood Services Hero

IL-Blood-Services-Award(CHICAGO, IL) – When young patients with blood disorders and their families come to Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital for their regular hemoglobin treatments, they can count on seeing a familiar face. Many have grown up knowing Diane Calamaras, APN, as the nurse practitioner who’s been at their side since their first blood transfusion.

“Without these treatments, they would not be able to have a good, quality life like the rest of us,” Diane said. “Being able to help them achieve a healthier and more normal life is very gratifying.”

Diane treats up to 70 patients with chronic illnesses each month, facilitating as many as 1,000 blood transfusions a year for infants as young as two months old to adults. They suffer from blood disorders like sickle cell disease, thalassemia and acute anemia. Her patients’ bodies cannot make normal red blood cells, which are necessary to carry oxygen around the body and enable proper growth and development.

“Diane is a hero to her patients, simply because she cares,” said Dr. Alexis Thompson, Hematology Section Head at Lurie Children’s Hospital. “Whether it is a family who is coping with their infant who may be receiving the very first of what will likely be a lifetime of transfusions, or an older child whose transfusions ensure they can remain active without other disease-related complications, Diane provides reassurance, education and compassionate care.”

When patients come to Diane for their regular transfusions, which can be as often as twice a month, they are fatigued, pale and may have debilitating pain. Diane gives them lifesaving blood that puts warm color back in their face and makes them feel better again for a little while. When they see Diane they know they have a friend who’s with them for the long haul.

Diane’s been doing this work at the Lurie Children’s Hospital blood transfusion center since 2002 and has 30 years of nursing experience. She started her medical career as a candy striper when she was a teenager and also worked in nursing homes, but children are where her heart is, and that’s why for most of her career she has served in pediatric care.

“I love what I do. I love that I can help people,” she said. “I never wanted to be anything other than a nurse.”

The Blood Services Award is presented by Walgreens to an individual(s) or organization who promotes community blood donation awareness and helps to build the community blood supply.

The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois is honoring local people who demonstrated acts of heroism in the community at the organization’s 14th annual Heroes Breakfast, Thursday, April 28 at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave. For more information: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/local/il/chicago/American-Red-Cross-Honors-Local-Heroes.

 Written by: Patricia Kemp, Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois 

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