“Donating is a cool thing to do,” said Stephen Wahley while showing off his new Commit for Life T-shirt.
It’s no secret that CenterPoint Energy is a huge supporter of saving lives through blood donations. In fact, CenterPoint Energy was named the 2010 Corporation of the Year at Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s annual “A Celebration of Life” awards ceremony in February. Last year, CenterPoint hosted 170 blood drives, yielding 4,488 donations, enough to impact more than 13,000 lives – WOW!
Many of CenterPoint’s locations throughout the greater Houston area host at least four blood drives a year, and some, including the H.O. Clarke Service Center, host even more than that! The H.O. Clarke Service Center hosts six blood drives a year – one every other month – and usually collects 40 to 50 products at each drive. Their March drive saw 46 successful donations, including 37 whole blood donations, four double red cell donations and five red cell plasma donations.
If you’ve never made an automated (otherwise known as apheresis) donation, you might be scratching your head after reading those last two donation types. As you may know, your blood is composed of red blood cells, platelets and plasma. Hospitals give blood to patients in the form of components. For example, burn patients often receive plasma, while cancer patients frequently receive platelets. After you donate a unit of whole blood, The Blood Center’s lab techs separate your donation into the three components for delivery to local hospitals.
When you make an automated donation, your blood is separated into components while you donate. As the blood leaves your arm, it’s processed through a machine. This machine separates your blood so that select components can be collected and the remaining components returned to your arm. Pretty cool, right? This nifty technology allows us to better match donations to the current needs of patients in our region. Visit the Type Matters page on our website to learn how you can optimize the benefit of your automated donation based on your blood type.
Cheryl Jackson, blood drive chairperson for the H.O. Clarke Service Center, is a supporter of automated donations, requesting the staff and equipment for automated donations at every other blood drive this year. Her donors are more than willing to spend the extra time it takes to make an automated donation.
“I like giving plasma because it helps the burn victims,” said Vince Gottleib, an 11-gallon donor who has been donating since 1982. Although he admits he was nervous the first time he made an automated donation, Vince now actually prefers them “because the machine gives you saline back in, so end up with just as much fluid afterward.”
CenterPoint’s H. O. Clarke Service Center boasts some very enthusiastic donors, including Daniel Cash, pictured here giving double red cells.
Regular donor Daniel Cash accounted for one of the four double red cell donations at the March drive. “My O-positive blood is good for infants,” he said. Daniel also admitted to another motivating factor: at the H.O. Clarke Service Center, employees are granted a “low-key” afternoon if they donate. Unless something urgent comes up, they don’t have to return to the field that day. Blood drive chairperson Cheryl Jackson also provides a hearty lunch for her staff at each blood drive.
Cheryl has been a blood donor since 1979, and she became more supportive than ever after receiving blood in 2005. “It makes me appreciate the people who donate,” she said. “The people here are really good about donating. They are all very dedicated. I remember how sick I was and if it wasn’t for that blood I wouldn’t be here. The only way to get it is by the goodness of the people who give back, who give of themselves.”
If you would like more information about hosting a blood drive, please call us at (713) 791-6670 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a blood drive chairperson and would like more information about adding automation to your drives, please contact your Blood Center Account Representative.