'Saving the Humans'

Twin Cities Community Hospital Staffers Rachel McGee, Brooks Pecot, and Mary Jo Cascarelli donated blood in the United Blood Services mobile blood bank, Ayg. 27 (photos by Camas Frank)

Seeks 32 pints during Templeton stop

TEMPLETON — The local United Blood Services busses, frequently spotted outside medical centers and other donation locations, have been making rounds under the rebranded Vitalant logo since this time last year.

The same faces are there, both staff and frequent donors, as the Scottsdale, Ariz., based non-profit supplier of blood products has changed names before and rapport has stayed constant with existing donors.

Also unchanged is the continual demand for the lifesaving cells and platelets, but Vitalant is concerned about a downward trend in donation rates by younger people.

“People under 40 aren't donating like generations before them,” reads the introduction to their Save the Humans campaign, “When you donate blood, it doesn't just help people during disasters. From surgery to fighting cancer to giving birth, blood donations are used to save around 12,000 lives a day. A lot of the medical care we take for granted wouldn't exist without blood donations.”

Available on their website, a CGI animated talking cat introduces a video explaining the need to “Save the Humans.”

If a talking animal video doesn’t illicit a desire to donate, or induces more of a groan, there was good news in Templeton at the Twin Cities Community Hospital on Tuesday Aug. 27, where the appointment slots for the day were booked-out in advance to meet the 32 pint goal set between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Inside an airconditioned bus with room for four clients at a time, and incidentally, a remarkably cool and comfortable island in the 90-degree parking lot, the phlebotomists from Vitaltiant worked on some of their peers, mostly RNs on a lunch break from the hospital.

All spoken to by the Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press did not need any inducements of convincing to offer their blood to the cause.

“I’m O-positive. So I know it’s more important for them to have a supply of my blood type on hand,” said Rachel McGee, Twin Cities’ Director of Clinical Informatics, explaining that while not a truly universal blood type, hers is more compatible than most for transfusion. “I would definitely encourage anyone to come in. It helps that they come to our work, I appreciate that they stop here and at my other job at Sierra Vista [in San Luis Obispo.]”

Mary Jo Cascarelli, director of perinatal obstetric nursing, added that she felt guilty about this being her first visit with the blood bank in quite some time, although her name was in the system from years prior in Santa Barbara.

“We don’t take blood use lightly in the hospital,” she said, noting that her years in the field had seen evolving science on how to apply a relatively scarce commodity, “blood products aren’t given as freely as they once were. We absolutely see the [lifesaving] value but understand the need for supply.”

Brooks Pecot, an RN working with outpatient care in the complex attached to the hospital added that in her field she sees patients week to week who would not survive without the materials she was donating at the moment, “as nurses we give transfusions a lot in outpatient. We really get to know our blood recipients with chronic conditions and see how it extends their lives.”

Incidentally, her own condition with higher hemoglobin counts allows her to donate more red blood cells per visit than other donors.

Vitalant can’t meet the needs of all their client hospitals simply by bleeding the medical professionals who work there, although they are celebrating phlebotomists, apheresis operators, and all those who support the blood collection process with a week of recognition on Sept.1-7.

Individuals interested in signing up to help “Save the Humans,” can start the fast track health screening process with a quick questionnaire at www.vitalant.org, and be alerted to convenient appointment slots for the next drive location.


Twin Cities Community Hospital Staffers Rachel McGee, Brooks Pecot, and Mary Jo Cascarelli donated blood in the United Blood Services mobile blood bank, Ayg. 27 (photos by Camas Frank)

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