Looking Back and Looking Ahead

September 6, 2010 at 12:56 pm

By Bob Forgrave

By any measure, this August saw the most successful ever Swim for Life across Lake Washington. From swimmers and kayakers, we had 357 participants who raised $50,000 to fund the testing of 500 additions to the national Be The Match Marrow Registry. We had more teams than ever (80, many with hilarious names), five teams that raised more than $1,000 each, and a finish line overflowing with energy, enthusiasm and music from our own DJ. Is that cool or what?  As I look back on the event, three emotions come to mind:


The first emotion is heartfelt thanks for the many who made this possible. Thanks to Scott Leopold for starting the idea of the swim, and thanks to Madeline Froning, Kristina Minear and the crew at Puget Sound Blood Center for personally embracing this swim and connecting it with the resources that only PSBC can offer. Thank you to the volunteers who worked very late and very early to ensure that this event went smoothly. Thanks to Alan Schulkin, who worked behind the scenes to raise many thousands of dollars for the cause. Thanks to Pam Gray and Rochelle Alhadeff at Chat with Women Radio Show for discussing the swim with us, to Christie Johnson of King 5 News for actually jumping in the water with us and to the 357 participants who made this a year to remember, in spite of the weather.

Puget Sound Blood Center President Dr. Jim AuBuchon and Swim founder Scott Leopold

The second emotion is a renewed since of purpose thanks to the number 500. Who will those 500 new bone marrow registrants be now that their testing is paid? Whose lives will they save? After the college roommate of one of my team members was suddenly diagnosed with leukemia, bone marrow became more personally relevant than ever. I know who one registrant will be. I signed up two weeks ago, and all it took was swabbing my cheek and filling out a three-page form. The only painful part was filling out that form! Only 499 other prepaid slots left…

The third and final emotion is the excitement that comes from fine-tuning a well-running engine. The swim was this good this year because we did a post-mortem last year and tweaked it. We’ll be doing that again soon for next year, seeing if we can top even this year’s Swim for Life across Lake Washington. If you want to help make the swim even better, drop me a note and we’ll discuss it!

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.”


How to Prepare for Blood Donation: Practical Advice from Facebook Followers

July 28, 2010 at 4:30 pm

The Saisslins know how to prepare.

On our Facebook Page, recently we asked followers, “Blood Heroes: What advice would you give potential donors about how to prepare for a successful first blood donation?” We received thirty-two responses from experienced donors eager to share their tips and tricks. This post showcases their best practical advice on how to prepare your body for blood donation.

Thank you to all the Blood Heroes who shared their wisdom!


Jan: My advice is 1) Drink a lot of water prior to donation. It helps the phlebotomist find a suitable vein. 2) Eat iron rich food 3-5 days leading up to the donation. 3) Tell the PSBC staff this is the first time donating and don’t be afraid to ask questions and indicate which arm you prefer they use for the donation.

Sean: Get a good night’s sleep before donating.

Deb: Be sure you’re well hydrated so they can find a good vein. Wear a short-sleeved shirt, too.

Bill: Shave your arm where they are going to put that ridiculous sticky tape on it!

Emily: If you have long hair, don’t put it up in a ponytail or a bun (it hurts when you lay down).

Bill: Ladies (heck … and men) might be better off wearing pants that day rather than a skirt.

Naomi: If you work out regularly, plan your workout schedule so that you will have a good 24 hours of rest after the donation.

Kirsten: Have a solid meal and fluids ahead of time, and relax. Plus there are cookies when you’re done!

Venice: If you’re a vegetarian, eat tons of food that is high in iron.

Michael: Spinach is a very good source of iron. What I do is put spinach instead of lettuce in my sandwiches.

Greg: Once you’re done, they treat you to juice, coffee and cookies. Go every 56 days because they always need the blood!

To see more practical advice about donation or to find answers to commonly asked questions, visit this page on our Website. You can also call 1-800-398-7888.  The next blog post will have the best advice on how to motivate your mind and how to overcome concerns about donation.

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.

In My Own Words: Why I Coordinate Summer and Holiday Drives

July 7, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Dennis Smart is the blood drive coordinator for Mercer Island Covenant Church

My name is Dennis Smart, and I am the blood drive coordinator for Mercer Island Covenant Church.

On the morning of January 8, 1997, my doctor called me and told me that I had an incurable form of Leukemia. As an avid blood donor, donating blood 85 times in my life, I always thought that I was doing something worthwhile. However, following my Leukemia diagnosis, this privilege was taken away. I decided to continue helping others by volunteering at the Bellevue blood center and at mobile blood drives on the Eastside.

In 2004, I learned firsthand the value of blood donation. I experienced out-of-control internal hemorrhaging, and I could not produce blood fast enough to offset the blood loss. It was then that I realized just how important the availability of blood was for people like me; without blood, I wouldn’t have survived.

While continuing my volunteer work for Puget Sound Blood Center, I learned that almost 20% of our community blood donations come from high school and college blood drives. When these schools are closed in the summer and during the holidays, our community must rely more than ever on churches and community groups to hold blood drives.

I approached my church, Mercer Island Covenant, about this opportunity to help safeguard the community blood supply. The church agreed to schedule blood drives on the Monday before Christmas and during the summer. Our parishioners and other Mercer Island donors have shown that they are anxious to help at these critical times.

It’s a wonderful feeling to know that, although I can no longer donate my blood, I can be helpful in very meaningful ways. Each time that I serve as a blood drive coordinator and volunteer at a blood drive, I think: today, I might help save another person’s life, just as mine was saved in the past.

Learn about organizing your own blood drive

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