Thank you for donating blood!

Thank you for donating blood!

January is a critical-need time for blood especially when holiday breaks and seasonal weather often reduce blood donations.

ABC 7 Chicago once again generously hosted the annual Great Chicago Blood Drive on Jan. 9, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency and the Drake Oak Brook Hotel. While helping to save lives, participants enjoyed entertainment from Medieval Times and received a free ABC 7 Great Chicago Blood Drive T-shirt.

The event collected a total of 684 units of blood! Watch live coverage from ABC 7 Chicago.

Thank you to all blood donors, volunteers, and sponsors for your generosity!

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 

Like Mother Like Daughter: Passing on Good Habits

24521463025_c034240d57_o(CHICAGO) – Robyn Deren of Oak Brook has been donating blood for nearly 20 years. As a donor at the ABC7 Great Chicago Blood Drive that took place Jan. 20 at Union Station and the Drake Hotel in Oak Brook, she had two special people at her side: daughters Abigail, 5 years, and Madison, 5 months.

“I wanted to introduce the 5-year-old so that she can see that it’s not scary and doesn’t hurt; it’s a few minutes and you’re done,” Deren said. “She sees me giving and hopefully she will do it when she’s old enough.”

Deren was one of hundreds from the Chicago area who ventured into the cold to participate in the blood drive. Winter is especially important as donations typically decrease during this time of year, creating a greater need. Despite this, the Jan. 20 drive collected a record amount of more than 620 units.

Someone is in need of a blood transfusion every 2 seconds in the U.S., and the Red Cross provides approximately 40% of the nation’s blood supply. An adult gives about one pint of blood during a donation and that amount alone has the potential to save up to three lives.

Blood is needed for patients with various medical conditions such as accident and burn victims, heart surgery patients, organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

“You can save a life with your donation,” Deren said. “We all need blood one day; it’s free, and your body will make it again.”

Every day, the Red Cross needs 14,000 blood donations to meet nationwide demand. Every donation is important, and the Red Cross is committed to maintaining a diverse blood supply. Eligible donors are encouraged to make an appointment to give blood by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by visiting redcrossblood.org.

Written by: Marta Juaniza, Public Affairs Volunteer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois

Donors Help Need for Blood During Winter

24428872811_8f841dd317_o(CHICAGO, IL) – Matthew Sharp makes an effort to give blood every three months. The Glenn Ellyn resident has Type O negative blood – only 9 percent of people in the United States have his blood type. O negative donors like Sharp are universal donors as their blood can be given to people of all blood types.

“It’s an hour out of my day and saves a couple lives,” he said.

Sharp and hundreds of Chicago area residents of all blood types rolled up a sleeve at the 23891944734_b98ae3757e_oABC 7 Great Chicago Blood Drive  Jan. 20. Braving cold temperatures, donors gave blood at Union Station’s Great Hall and the Drake Hotel in Oak Brook. A combined 621 units were collected between both locations in the largest single-day blood drive in the greater Chicago region.

This event comes at a crucial time since blood donations tend to decline in the winter months. Inclement weather and seasonal illnesses can keep eligible donors from giving, creating a greater need for donations during the winter.

As one pint can save up to three lives, many gave blood to help those in need, while others wanted to be an example to family members.

“I started donating in college…my daughter knew I was coming today,” said Takyrica Kokoszka of Oak Park.

24152356339_2472a67c1a_oGov. Bruce Rauner also stopped by Union Station to thank blood donors, Red Cross volunteers and biomedical staff, and even donated a pint of blood.

Phlebotomist Robin Langenfeld came from the Peoria biomedical team to assure proper tracking of blood by placing bar code labels on donor bags. From there blood is processed, tested and stored by the Red Cross until it is ready to be shipped to hospitals.

The annual blood drive event was launched in 2015 during the 100th anniversary of the Red Cross in Chicago. The Red Cross and ABC 7 partnered this year with Amtrak, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Fresenius Kabi, iHeartMedia Chicago, Clear Channel Outdoor, Univision and Potbelly Sandwiches.

Each day, the Red Cross needs 14,000 blood donations to meet the needs of patients at approximately 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. To help ensure patients have the blood products they need this winter, eligible donors can make an appointment using the Blood Donor App, by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or by visiting www.redcrossblood.org.

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Story by Nick Lagen, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois Public Affairs Volunteer

 Photos by Bill Biederman, Danny Diaz, and Gerry Holmes, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois Public Affairs Volunteers

For more photos of the ABC 7 Great Chicago Blood Drive: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chicagoredcross/albums/72157663623651856/with/23891944734/

 

Blood Donors Help Prevent a Summer Shortage at Brookfield Zoo

(BROOKFIELD, IL) – “This is my sixth time donating blood,” said Tom Bierwith of Chicago as he reclined at a donation station at the Brookfield Zoo. “When the Red Cross called me to let me know they were hosting a blood drive today, my wife and I didn’t hesitate, we knew we would be here no matter what.” 20327020962_b9c283d609_z

Temperatures in the 90’s couldn’t keep blood donors, like Tom, away from the Chicago Red Cross Summer of Connections Blood Drive at the Brookfield Zoo. Partnering with ABC 7 Chicago, the blood drive was held Aug. 5 to ensure hospital patients have enough blood products during the summer, a slow time for blood donations.

The Summer of Connections Blood Drive was the second largest regional blood drive for single-day collections with 228 units of blood collected. To put that number into perspective, those 228 units of blood have the potential to save 680 lives.

The call to donate was a commonality among the hundreds of donors, particularly for Rebecca Puskar of Chicago who visited the zoo with her son after donating.

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“I want to teach my son today that this (giving blood) is an important part of giving back to your community,” she said. “If a time ever comes when I need blood, I hope that there will be people who have stepped up to provide me with the same life-saving gift that I’ve been able to provide today.”

If you are interested in an easy way to save a life, you can give the gift of life-saving blood by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor app, visit redcrossblood.org, or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to find a blood drive near you.

Story by Alexandra Sobczak, Public Affairs Volunteer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois 

Photos by Danny Diaz, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois Volunteer  

Blood Donors Give Blood Bank a Boost Before Holiday Weekend

Michelle Blood Drive Photo(CHICAGO, IL) – Summer can be a challenging time for blood donations. A recent Red Cross blood and platelet donor survey found that more than
40 percent of eligible blood donors plan to travel the week before or after Independence Day.

But the lack of blood and platelet donors isn’t just an issue these two weeks every July: most donors are less available to give during the summer months due to vacation and summer activities.

Fortunately, today at the Chicago Red Cross headquarters, a blood drive provided our blood bank with a much needed boost for the holiday weekend.

“Blood drives are one of the most life-saving forms of volunteerism,” said Red Cross disaster program specialist Betsy Johnson, who gave blood for the fourth time this year. “You can save three lives with just one unit of blood. Plus, it only takes 30 minutes of my day.”

Besides the motivation to donate blood as a Red Cross employee, Betsy’s sister is currently undergoing chemotherapy, fueling her personal desire to contribute to the need for blood.

A few chairs over, Red Cross international services and service to the armed forces manager Michelle McSweeney, was admiring her Red Cross embroidered baseball hat that she received courtesy of the national American Red Cross “100 Days of Summer” blood donation initiative. From July 2-12 anyone who donates blood at a Red Cross blood drive will receive a free Red Cross embroidered baseball hat, while supplies last.

Michelle was all smiles as the nurse initiated the blood collection process, “(Blood drives) provide me with an opportunity to serve outside of my every day role, and guaranteeing I will be making an impact in people’s lives.”

If you are interested in an easy way to save a life, you can give the gift of life-saving blood by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor app, visit redcrossblood.org, or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to find a blood drive near you.

Story and Photo By: Alexandra Sobczak, American Red Cross Volunteer

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