Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Give blood: Help patients in need this summer

During the Fourth of July week, fewer blood drives are held across the country and many blood donors are away enjoying vacations. This creates a difficult situation for the blood supply, and the American Red Cross is facing an emergency need for blood and platelet donors after a significant shortfall in blood donations during the Independence Day holiday week and ongoing challenges finding new blood donors.

Right now, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of most blood types available – and less than a two-day supply of type O blood. Blood donations are currently being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in. More donations are needed now to replenish the blood supply.

Eligible individuals are urged to give now to help avoid delays in lifesaving medical care for patients this summer.

Who needs blood
Blood from generous volunteer donors helps families like the Jolliffes. In February 2018, Meghan Jolliffe suffered an amniotic fluid embolism. During childbirth her heart stopped beating for 14 minutes, resulting in the need for an emergency cesarean section. Her organs began to shut down, and her blood would not clot. Meghan received nearly 100 units of blood within a seven-hour period during her procedures. The doctors were able to stop the bleeding and stabilize Meghan’s condition. Over the next several days, Meghan underwent five surgeries, dialysis and more to repair the damage to her body.

Meanwhile, after her son Sullivan was delivered, he went without oxygen for seven minutes. Doctors performed a process called therapeutic hypothermia, or whole-body cooling, to preserve his neurological function, and he also received several units of blood. In all, Meghan and Sullivan received 109 units of blood.

“My family and I are forever grateful for the generosity of Red Cross volunteer blood donors,” said Meghan. “Donating blood is so important. You or a loved one may never need these lifesaving products, but I can assure you that someone, somewhere will.”

Don’t wait – help now:
1.   Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).  
2.   Let your friends and family know there is a #BloodEmergency and ask them to give now.
3.   Bring someone to donate with you.

Blood transfusion is the fourth most common inpatient hospital procedure in the U.S., and these blood products can only come from volunteer donors. Yet, only 3 out of 100 people in the U.S. give blood. It’s crucial that the Red Cross has a sufficient blood supply on hand to meet the needs of patients every day and to be prepared for emergencies that require significant volumes of donated blood products.

Please make an appointment to give now. 

Friday, May 24, 2019

MVPs Sound the Alarm to Save a Life

At about 6:30 p.m. on May 16, 2019, Merlene Jackson's daughter picked her up. 20 minutes later, she received a call from her son. Merlene's Ravenwood Avenue, Rochester, home was on fire.

"The kitchen was destroyed, part of the dining room," Jackson says. "Smoke is through the whole house, we can't stay there with the smoke."

Her son, Tyrese Bryant, and 13-year-old granddaughter, Liberty, were home sleeping when the fire started. Thankfully, just one week earlier, a team of volunteers from MVP Health Care--Tim Reidy, Paul Bottazzo, and Mark Shipley--joined Red Cross intern Sara Ward from SUNY Brockport and visited Merlene's home as part of the Red Cross Sound the Alarm campaign.

The team from MVP Health Care and Red Cross interns
and volunteers who helped Sound the alarm on May 9
"They removed my old smoke alarms, and gave me three new ones," Jackson said. "My son was asleep, that's what woke him up. Two of them were going off, one in the dining room, one upstairs in the hallway. That's what got my son up."

"It could've been a lot worse, I'm not even sure the other ones worked."

Jackson also says the education and escape planning the volunteers provided helped Tyrese and Liberty know what to do when the alarms went off. Red Cross volunteers visited Merlene again after the fire, providing her family with funding for temporary housing, food, and clothing. However, it was that visit by the Red Cross volunteers from MVP Health Care that helped her son and granddaughter to still be here today.

"Sunday, I shared my story with our entire congregation at church," Merlene says. "I said, 'If you don't have a smoke alarm in your house, call the Red Cross, it's very important.'"

"If it wasn't for the smoke alarms...they were sound asleep!"

Since launching in 2014, the Home Fire Campaign has saved over 580 lives nationally, including 23 in Western and Central New York. Learn more about our campaign to #EndHomeFires at soundthealarm.org/wcny.

-Jay Bonafede, American Red Cross

Monday, April 15, 2019

In Memoriam - John Allard, Blood Services Volunteer Extraordinaire

John Allard
For almost five decades, anyone visiting the Red Cross blood collection center in Western New York would likely see the smiling face of John Allard.

Allard began his Red Cross volunteer career in 1970, and over the next 48 years dedicated over 50,000 hours to supporting this lifesaving mission. For over a hundred hours a month, John would tuck himself into a corner workroom of the Union Road Blood Donation Center in Cheektowaga, making the many road signs used to promote blood drives across the NY-Penn region. He took great pride in his work, always cleaning and repairing the signs before adding the updated information.

John Allard and District
Director Vicki Smith
John’s positive attitude could not be confined to a corner office, however. He was also one of the first people to sign up and volunteer as a donor ambassador. John greeted blood donors at five to ten drives each month, making sure those giving that lifesaving gift were treated with kindness and respect. After he was hospitalized following a serious accident in December 2018, donors often asked other staff and volunteers, “Where’s John?” John was also a donor himself, starting in 1963 at the age of 17 and donating over 40 gallons of blood during his lifetime.

Regional Disaster Officer Ken Turner (l)
and Volunteer Driver Program
Coordinator Rachel Elzufon-Couch
present John Allard with the WNY
Chapter 2018 Clara Barton Award
For his efforts, the Western New York Chapter twice recognized John Allard with its highest local volunteer honor, the Clara Barton Award, most recently in August 2018. While in the hospital and rehab facilities following his accident last December, John would light up when members of his Red Cross family would visit to show our love and support.

John Allard, a United States Air Force veteran and avid fisherman, passed away on April 13, 2019, at the age of 72. The son of the late Clayton and Marian Allard, and brother to Kathy, Tom, Bill, Rich, Susan, Dave, the late Clayton Jr., and the late Michael Allard, he is also survived by many loving nieces and nephews. Memorial services are scheduled to take place this week. The Western New York Chapter and the NY-Penn Blood region send our thoughts and prayers to John’s family and friends, as we are working to honor his amazing Red Cross legacy for years to come.

-Jay Bonafede, Regional Communications Officer
American Red Cross, Western and Central New York Region

Monday, March 18, 2019

Delivering Hope and Healing in ERVs

Since 1970, the number of large-scale disasters across the globe has more than quadrupled to nearly 400 per year. According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the United States is among the top three nations to experience these disasters. This statistic hits home for communities in the Southern Tier, as they have experienced three major floods over the last decade.  

Mary O’Malley-Trumble and her son can attest to how damaging these disasters can be. After rising waters from the Susquehanna River caused major flooding from Binghamton to Vestal in September 2011,  Mary’s son lost his home, all of his personal possessions, and his two cats. This is just one of many haunting stories of loss for individuals in the Binghamton area, which is prone to flood risks because of the Susquehanna Basin. .   

Stories such as Mary’s are the reason that the Red Cross actively works to be able to provide aid. The Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles, or ERVS, are a big part of providing help to these communities. This is because ERVs are equipped to get through tough terrain and weather to provide help to people after disasters.  

The 17-year-old ERV, based in Binghamton
Mary recalls taking a break from helping her son clean up his property to walk outside and see a Red Cross ERV delivering hot meals to the community. She reflects on this, saying, “A hot meal may seem trivial, but when you are dealing with such loss, it is so much more.” She cites the ERV as a symbol of “hope and healing” that day.  

Additionally, ERVs provided transport to the shelter at Binghamton University, which housed over 1,700 survivors. The ERVs brought victims meals, provided blankets, cots, and other necessities during the flood of 2011. In the aftermath, ERVs maneuvered through the impacted areas to deliver food and clean up kits to those that could not leave their homes. 
Today, this ERV that once served as a symbol of hope and help, is not in the proper condition to safely aid others. The latch on the back door does not stay on while the ERV is moving, and replacement parts are no longer made for the aging ERV. It is clear that this 17 year old ERV—though loved by volunteers—will soon need to be retired and replaced.

We are thrilled that the community came together to provide the Southern Tier Chapter the ability to replace its ERV. Thanks to the generous donations of the Decker Foundation, Hoyt Foundation, Mee Foundation, Triad Foundation, and Greater Norwich Foundation the Southern Tier will soon see a Next Generation ERV,

Next Generation ERV (Stock photo)
The Next Generation ERV is equipped with features that will assist volunteers in better helping others. This includes interior seating that is welcoming for disaster survivors to come in and sit, get warm, or provide a place for them to eat a warm meal. Instead of one feeding window, there will be two large windows, meaning four times more space for volunteers to be able to hand out food to those in need, as well as a greater ability to connect with the community. Additionally, there will be greater external lighting so that disaster victims can better see the approaching ERV, making the vehicle more visible and inviting. 

Now, as flooding in the Susquehanna Basin continues to be as prevalent as ever, the new ERV will be able to provide consistent aid to disaster survivors and to those impacted by any disasters to come.  

-Story by: Megan Rooney, Development intern