It’s about What’s In Me, Not What’s In It for Me

Andrea Fagan, Indiana Blood Center’s Director of PR and Marketing, shares her insights on donating granulocytes.

WIIFM. That classic question: what’s in it for me? On a freezing Friday in January, I sat in a chair in the Indiana Blood Center donor center at 3450 N. Meridian with a small group of dedicated donors who never ask that question. We never think it even when asked to give a very special donation called a granulocyte.

Granulocyte. Rolls off the tongue like sand, doesn’t it? Kinda grainy. It’s a particular kind of white blood cell transfused into patients to help them fight infection. The good people of my organization were planning to take some of mine and give them to an eight year old bone marrow recipient with a life-threatening infection. This is why we blood donors ignore WIIFM, by the way. So I perused the NIH website and Wikipedia, talked to the clinical services staff down the hall, and compulsively shared my new knowledge with friends and family. This “granulocyte” thingy was going to be quite an adventure.

Granulocyte donors take a 24 hour course of steroids, mind their aspirin intake, hydrate, and keep patients in their prayers. Then we are hooked up to a “centrifuge” (holy cow, more big words) and receive a needle in the right arm and another in the left. I’m a platelet donor (one needle!) and think apheresis is cool (you can look that up). It’s high tech. I’d never done a “double needle” procedure before and was fairly giddy with the technical terms and science.

Giving granulocytes is a very special request because of the fragile nature of the recipient’s immune system. Many patients need several days of transfusions so donors are located and scheduled to cover the entire admission window. A donor’s blood must match the recipient’s type AND be free of Cytomegalovirus (CMV). Cells can’t be shaken, dropped, stirred, or disturbed. The bag containing the granulocytes is stat-tested, hand-packed, and rushed to the hospital—expedited to the patient and transfused within an hour or two of donation. Pretty heady stuff—the kind of emergency response that causes adrenaline surges.

The donation takes about three hours, during which donor center staff are calm and collected. Adrenaline wears off and is replaced by a humble quietness. I brought along my Tau and San Damiano crosses—symbols of the healing power of Saint Francis of Assisi. As the small bag (seems too small! Is the cell count adequate?) was removed from the hook and readied for its journey, I told the staff about the significance of the crosses and said a little prayer in my head. Please let what is in me be enough.

On that day, it was.

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Thanks For Giving

In honor of this upcoming Thanksgiving week we want to emphasize how important our generous donors are to us. Thanks to thousands of Hoosiers who support our cause throughout the year, lives are saved each and every day.

It was around this time last year that a past donor, John McKenzie, expressed to us his passion for saving lives. While he still supports the power of donating, John is no longer able to give blood due to health issues. Luckily for those in need of transfusions, he is spreading the word on the importance of donating. In 2013, John made a simple Thanksgiving request to his children, encouraging each of them to give up an hour of their time to donate for those who can’t. Here is the handwritten letter John shared with his children asking for their help.

1 letter

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We thank John and his family for their lifesaving efforts. Accept John’s challenge and make an appointment to donate blood today.

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41 Years and Counting

All of our donors love supporting our lifesaving cause, especially Greg.

Greg receiver's a certificate in honor of having completed 400 total donations.

Greg receives a certificate in honor of having completed 400 total donations.

Meet Greg McDermott, a local Indianapolis donor who’s been giving since 1973. He tells it like it is. Read his story below.

“I started donating in the fall 1973 at a mobile blood drive held at my school in honor of severe mentally disabled students. I donated whole blood for couple years after this because it was so easy and quick.

Later on, I read about the apheresis process in an article published in what used to be the Star magazine section of the Indianapolis Star. It intrigued me and I learned about how much more a single donation is multiplied through the use of the apheresis process.

The last 40+ years that I have donated, many have asked, “why do I continue to donate?” It is really very simple, how can anyone say no to saving a life? If you are able bodied and in good health, sharing that most precious gift of health with others is in my mind a no-brainer! The benefit to the donors is the incredible feeling of giving of yourself, which is when you truly give.”

– Greg McDermott

We thank Greg for sharing his inspiring and encouraging story. To follow Greg’s lead and Raise Your Sleeve, visit donorpoint.org to schedule an appointment.

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Marissa Raises Her Sleeve

Marissa Raises Her Sleeve in honor of her brother, Brett.

Everyone pays it forward for a reason. Marissa’s reason? Her brother Brett. Marissa and Brett Pangle differ in age by only a few years, but it’s their bond with one another that makes them so close.

Last month, Brett was admitted to Riley’s’ Children Hospital in need of transfusions to treat his hemolytic anemia. Hemolytic anemia is a medical condition in which the body fails to produce red blood cells at the same pace they decompose.

In honor of those that helped her brother, Marissa donated for the first time last Monday. Since landing in the hospital, Brett has received three live-saving transfusions. Following the example set by donors like you, Marissa has chosen to pay if forward by giving back just like those that gave to her brother, by proudly Raising Her Sleeve. Follow Marissa’s lead by scheduling an appointment today at donorpoint.org

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In Honor of Emily Stephenson

Emily in upper photograph. The Stephenson family in the lower photograph.

Emily and the Stephenson Family

Meet the almost 2-year-old Emily Stephenson. Born with a rare blood disease called Spherocytosis, Emily relies on blood from donors like you to keep her strong. Spherocytosis, a rare blood disorder characterized by the premature death of red blood cells is treated with the help of blood transfusions. Within last year, Emily has received over 20 blood transfusions.

As a way to bring attention to importance of blood donations and to help maintain the blood supply, the Stephenson family has organized a blood drive to take place on Monday, February 3 at Indiana Blood Center’s Carmel donor center. As “The Second Annual Blood Drive in Honor of Emily Stephenson”, Emily’s family hopes to collect 50 units of blood.  Please sign up at www.donorpoint.org to Raise Your Sleeve for Emily this coming Monday, February 3, on Emily’s second birthday and in honor of Emily and the many other people like her who rely on constant transfusions.

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Indiana Blood Center’s Community Artists Program

Indiana Blood Center has partnered with schools across the state of Indiana to launch its second year of the Community Artists Program. The program partners local elementary and intermediate schools’ art classes with Indiana Blood Center by allowing students to create and paint canvases reflecting themes related to  blood donation and Indiana Blood Center. Past theme’s have included, cell biology, Indiana Blood Center’s Raise Your Sleeve campaign, and Phil – Indiana Blood Center’s mascot. The resulting artwork then appears at Indiana Blood Center donor centers statewide, where they provide a pleasant viewing atmosphere for donors as they give blood.

Recently, Indiana Blood Center partnered with Dollens and Lincoln Elementary school’s where art teacher, Michelle Luck, had her students paint canvases relating to cell biology reflecting what they had learned in their science curriculum. Indiana Blood Center’s mascot – Phil, decided to pay a visit to the Indiana Blood Center’s Columbus donor center to check out the artwork and remind us of how simple the donating process can be!

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Donor of the Month

Congratulations to Indiana Blood Center’s Donor of the Month…

Ben donating platelets at Indiana Blood Center's Lafayette Donor Center

Ben donating platelets at Indiana Blood Center’s Lafayette Donor Center

Ben Davis

“Why would you not, I don’t have a good reason not to…” said, Benjamin Davis.

The “that” Ben Davis refers to, is donating blood.

“It doesn’t cost me anything, I’ve got the time to do it, and it’s something I can do to help save people’s lives, so why not do it?” Ben said.

With such a simple action, it’s difficult to argue with Ben who has donated 125 times (and counting).

At the age of 17, Ben donated for his first time with Indiana Blood Center during a blood drive held at his high school, Jefferson High School in Lafayette, Indiana. Since then, he’s been an avid donor, donating consistently since 2006. He went from donating whole blood a few times a year, then making the switch to donating platelets in 2008.

During a conversation with an Indiana Blood Center donor center specialist, Ben realized he was best suited as a platelet donor. With AB+, Ben is the ideal platelet donor.

And why does he keep coming back you may wonder?

“It’s pretty simple why I give, it’s the right thing to do, it’s something good you can do, and it doesn’t cost you anything.”

Today, when one walks into the Lafayette donor center, he/she is  likely to see Ben donating platelets.

With so many donations under his belt, Ben enjoys giving the little perks he gets in return for his donations, to his kids. All three of his boys wear Indiana Blood Center hats, shirts, and even carry around Indiana Blood Center umbrellas on rainy days.

Ben is hopeful that when someone sees the Indiana Blood Center logo that his kids sport, they will be motivated to raise their sleeve.

Follow Ben’s lead and support our lifesaving cause by raising your sleeve. Visit Donorpoint.org to schedule your appointment today.

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