Young Professional Ambassadors…Are You One?

October 21, 2010 at 11:30 am

By Beth Newman

Who are they? Maybe you. Young Professional Ambassadors (YPA) is an opportunity to learn about all that Puget Sound Blood Center is working on, share your knowledge with the community and become experienced in working with nonprofits.

Your time, money and energy are available to be spent on causes that are important to you. It is not always clear what those causes are. I was wondering how to give back after an accident left me fighting for my life. There were so many people and organizations that all pulled together to ensure my survival. Puget Sound Blood Center was a large piece of saving my life as their blood products were what gave my body time to heal from the life-saving surgeries that were performed.

I started donating blood when I was in high school after my mom signed a permission slip. I remember thinking that it was a simple case of it being the right thing to do, and I did it without much thought. Later as a nurse, I knew the importance of blood donations as I gave blood products to my patients and watched their lives improve.

Personally, I know the gift of the Blood Center as I received 100 components of blood after an accident. I am looking forward to the 3-year anniversary of my accident in the upcoming weeks. I needed a way to give back all that had been given to me. I had already been back donating blood one year after my accident. I needed to do more.

I have been working in the Development Office of the main branch of Puget Sound Blood Center for the past couple of months. I have been given a chance to speak to blood donors and financial contributors. I thank them personally for their gifts to the Blood Center on behalf of all of the people who will be helped by their donation.

A situation like mine does not need to be the catalyst for donating your time. As you find out all that the Blood Center does for our community, you realize that you will be helping your family members, neighbors and community as a whole. Your time and effort may not be visible to you as a member of this new volunteer committee, but I can tell you first hand that the people you help are eternally grateful as well as are their friends and family.

This is the time for you to use your talents and energy to make an incredible impact for so many people. Another benefit to YPA members should be listed as: Forever be a hero to countless patients and families whose lives are forever changed, helped and restored by your gift of time, money and energy.

Young Professional Ambassadors…are you one?

Check out the Young Professional Ambassadors of the Blood Center and review the objectives for more information on the program. The application can be found at: http://www.psbc.org/news_archive/ypa_application.pdf

It Is Amazing that Such a Simple (and Enjoyable) Thing Could Be so Life Changing!

October 8, 2010 at 10:37 am

Art Gunderson’s son, Nate Gunderson on the left, is enjoying life with his wife and daughter thanks to blood donors.

By Art Gunderson

I started routinely donating blood in Olympia in 1996 and have always been impressed by the friendly and professional staff and volunteers. I had never experienced or even known someone with a problem that required a transfusion of blood products, but knew how vitally important the blood supply is for many in our region.

Then on April 4th of 2009, my 31-year-old son Nate became seriously ill at his daughter’s 1st Birthday party at our home. At the hospital in Seattle, the doctors determined that Nate had contracted bacterial endocarditis and needed an urgent aortic heart valve replacement.

The disease progressed and a few weeks later he needed several units of blood and another emergency heart valve replacement. The day after his surgery he was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane where he was kept alive in the cardiac ICU for two months on the heart transplant list.

On July 5, 2009, Nate received a lifesaving heart transplant. This entire process required dozens of units of blood. Over the four months of his illness I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude for the hundred or so people who had donated blood to save my son’s life.

Today, six months after his heart transplant, Nate is healthy and sharing life with his wife and little daughter, and I am back donating and telling everyone I know to be a blood and organ donor. It is amazing that such a simple (and enjoyable) thing could be so life changing! I am a donor for life.

Allison’s Story: I Might not Have Survived if I Had to Wait Much Longer

August 16, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Allison Trimble’s is alive thanks to a heart donor and a family’s selfless decision.

For most teens, sophomore year in high school revolves around football games, talking on the phone and cramming for tests. Allison Trimble’s sophomore year took a different direction.

After experiencing exhaustion while trying out for the swim team, Allison went to the doctor for an asthma test. A routine chest x-ray showed that her heart had swollen to four times its normal size. She was battling a genetic heart illness called familial cardiomyopathy.

After 18 days in intensive care at Children’s Hospital, Allison was listed on the heart transplant waiting list and sent home to wait for a donor. On March 5th, while coming to grips with a tragic loss, a Northwest family consented to donate the organs of their loved one.

Puget Sound Blood Center’s HLA/Immunogenetics Laboratory technicians began analyzing blood and tissue samples to identify matches between the donor and those waiting for organ transplants. Allison was one of the matches. “I was so lucky. The disease is so rapid, everything happens so quickly that I might not have survived if I had to wait much longer.”

Allison now volunteers to share her story with the Blood Center and a local organ donation organization where she uses her experience to provide emotional support and education to donor and recipient families. “I feel I have a responsibility to spread the word and do everything possible to let people know. I want people to know that because someone donated, I can live.”

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Why I Love Volunteers and My Job!

July 24, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Jan and Augie, Long-Time Volunteers with whom Cecilia Stevens has Worked at the Silverdale Donor Center

By Cecilia Stevens, Volunteer Services Coordinator at the Silverdale Donor Center

I have the pleasure of hearing many stories and meeting many lives that have been touched by the Blood Center. Volunteers who join us often stay for years doing jobs such as registration, donor monitoring, administration and transportation. Without these wonderful individuals, we could not succeed and I would not have this great job!

The most important part of my job is developing and nurturing ongoing relationships. Also crucial is training volunteers well so that they are confident in their jobs. Every day is different and exciting. It is not stress-free, but no job is, and the reward is knowing you are helping others give something special of their time and talents to a very special organization. I thank Puget Sound Blood Center for the privilege of being a Volunteer Services Coordinator.

If you wish to become a volunteer for Puget Sound Blood Center, learn the many ways you can help.

Hitting the Road to Donate (Part Four): The Unsung Roadies of Puget Sound Blood Center

April 26, 2010 at 9:53 am

Guest Blog Post by Steven Pogge

Thanks to Steven Pogge for chronicling his mission to donate at all 11 donor centers in Western Washington, and for acknowledging staff and volunteers at each center. In this post, he honors two Mobile Assistants: Tom Plantenberg and Dan Deyour.

There is a small group of people with the Blood Center that have been given the title of Mobile Assistant or M.A. for short. These are the men and women who are in charge of driving to, setting up and tearing down the mobile drive. I like to think of them as the Unsung Roadies. They are a combination of many things, keeper of the supplies, interior designers of the draw area, long haul truck drivers, janitorial engineers, and phlebotomist helpers and keepers of the juice.

Like good roadies, they are usually the first to arrive and last to leave the draw. From ice and snow in December, cold February mornings, April downpours and hot August afternoons, they trek from the van to draw without a whimper. The slog can sometime be to the top of multistory buildings, across expansive grounds of state office buildings, under the steps of a high school auditorium or through an underground parking maze that would confuse a mole. Even when the location is easy to find they sometimes have to obtain security clearance, pass through a metal detector and survive the scrutiny of uniformed guards, just to enter the front door.

A good M.A. has a Global Positioning System along with an avalanche beacon built into their brain. Not only do they need to find these remote locations but they then have to negotiate a huge moving van into spaces a VW bug would have trouble fitting into.

Getting to the location is only half the fun … Imagine having to move a one-bedroom apartment to a new location each morning and then packing it up again at the end of the day. That will give you an idea of the amount work involved. It is a physical workout where one needs the strength of a NFL linebacker, the quickness of an NBA point guard, and the toughness of a NHL goalie.

In my quest to donate and volunteer around Puget Sound, I have run across two M.A.s that I think are the best Roadies around. They are the Men of Mobile 7, Tom Plantenberg and Dan Deyour. Whenever I arrive at one of their drives, I am always greeted with warm welcome and usually a good-natured jab about my showing up a few minutes late. Part of the joy of volunteering with these guys has been being able to joke and kid each other in good fun. Tom always has a pot of coffee that would make a Norwegian cringe. I have the honor of being one of the few to have actually drunk a cup of Tom’s coffee after it has set for a few hours. I was fortunate that the brew was still in liquid form. Dan on the other hand doesn’t have a pot of coffee waiting in the mornings but instead he is brimming with a recent story that would be unbelievable if it happened to anyone other then Dan. In most of these stories, Dan is on the receiving end of some catastrophic event that would have others running for cover. Dan keeps a sense of humor through it all and you can hear his deep explosive laugh across the room every so often. His laugh is sort of a cross between a Santa’s HOHOHO and the breaching of an Orca whale. It always brings a smile to my face.

One aspect of this job that Tom and Dan are sometimes required to perform is the long road trip. Like the early explorers of the high seas, they have been known to venture to the very end of Puget Sound Blood Center territory. It can be all the way to the northern bounds around Port Angeles, where loggers are known to have veins the size of a #2 pencils, to as far down as the Vancouver area, within sight of the Columbia River. No matter when the call comes, Dan and Tom are always there, setting up the draws to supply western Washington with new blood every day. Thank you guys for the great work you do. You are the Lewis and Clark of South Puget sound, the Master Movers, the unsung heroes of the Blood Center.

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