Life-long Stockton resident Dennis Saxton began serving blood donors 17 years ago. During his very first volunteering shift, three people passed out! “I almost didn’t come back,” said Dennis, “but I’m glad that I did. Since then, I have met a lot of people I like to call friends.” Dennis thoroughly enjoys spending time with his friends, so much so that, he schedules three regular shifts per week and will come in on a moment’s notice to fill in when needed.
Dennis enjoys the front desk, signing donors in and answering their questions. Dennis moonlights as a trainer and has helped numerous new volunteers learn the subtleties of reception work. With his easy sense of humor, Dennis shines in the Canteen. “I like to meet people and I like to talk,” he ways. But Dennis also understands the serious side of the Canteen. “You have to pay attention to what’s going on around you. We are here to serve the donors.”
The American Red Cross has recently been in extra need of blood donors; the impact of blood donors has always proved instrumental in saving lives. As blood donations continue to decline this summer, the American Red Cross asks eligible donors to remember patients who are counting on the generosity of volunteers to roll up a sleeve and give. Without lifesaving blood, patients like 3-year-old Emily Stephenson wouldn’t be alive to share their stories.
Emily was only a few days old when her parents, Amy and Wayne Stephenson, learned she had a genetic blood disorder which causes severe anemia. To remain healthy, Emily will require blood transfusions every six to eight weeks until she is at least 10 years old. She’s already received blood more than 30 times.
“Blood donation is the bridge between life and death for Emily, but it is also so much more,” said Amy Stephenson. “It is learning to ride a bike, going to her first dance, earning a diploma and walking down an aisle someday.”
The Red Cross partnered with the Stephenson family in a special video to put a face on the importance of blood donation. In the video “Emily’s Story: A Letter from Mom and Dad,” the Stephensons want to express eternal gratitude for those who roll up a sleeve to help Emily live.
“The process of donation may appear to be filled with anonymity, but we see a name in every unit Emily receives during a transfusion,” said Amy Stephenson. “While we do not know the donor, we can see your heart and we appreciate you.”
Emily is one of many individuals who are in urgent need of blood; one donor can potentially save up to three lives from just one pint of blood.
The Red Cross has an urgent need for eligible blood donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood to give now to prevent an emergency situation. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to patients with any blood type. Types A negative and B negative can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients. Individuals with these blood types are urged to make and keep donation appointments as soon as possible to help replenish the blood supply.
Platelet donors and those with type AB blood are also continually needed to help ensure the shelves are stocked for patients in need. Platelets – a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, surgical patients and bone marrow recipients – must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are always needed. Donors with type AB blood are urgently needed to restock the plasma supply. Type AB donors have the universal plasma type, which can be given to patients of all blood types.
Plasma is often needed for burn, trauma and clotting deficiency patients. Plasma can be collected during a blood or platelet donation.
Everyone is encouraged to give blood or platelets to help patients like Emily and replenish the blood supply. For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate blood, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org. Donors can also use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, which is free and available for download now. It can be found in app stores by searching for American Red Cross, visiting redcross.org/apps or redcrossblood.org/bloodapp, or by texting BLOODAPP to 90999 for a direct link to download.
If you would like to donate in the Gold Country Region, visit Delta Blood Bank for information of when and where to donate.