A very rewarding experience

Photo by Martin Gagliano / American Red Cross

Rohinton Palkhivala – or Ron as he likes to be called – started donating blood in the late 90s with the Canadian Red Cross. He was looking for opportunities to volunteer and help people affected by the Gulf war. Upon learning how blood donations could potentially save lives, he put aside his fear of needles and became a regular donor.

Many years later, here in the Northern California Coastal Region of the American Red Cross, he has continued with his commitment to helping others, but this time “wearing more than one hat”. Ron is not only a regular platelet donor, but he also volunteers as a Red Cross Blood Donor Ambassador in the new Oakland Blood Donation Center on College Avenue.

The need for blood is constant. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood and the Red Cross provides about 40% of the nation’s blood supply. Regular donors like Ron are needed every day to help ensure new moms, premature babies, cancer patients and accident victims have access to safe, lifesaving blood products.

Photo courtesy of Ron Palkhivala

 “It is indeed a very rewarding experience,” he says about his role as a platelet donor. “One leaves the donation center feeling great about having done something to help others. You walk away knowing you have just potentially saved someone’s life and given them a second chance. This is just incredible and very motivating as well.”

After retiring a year ago from his specialty food business, Ron feels that “life has definitely become more relaxing” for him and he is determined to “do something significantly more valuable” with his time, whereupon he decided to take volunteer shifts at the front desk of the Oakland Blood Donation Center once every couple of weeks. He is the friendly face who helps donors with the check-in process and ensures that they have a pleasant experience from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave.

Ron is committed to making all donors feel welcome and appreciated. “You must make them feel special because they are doing something special. They are not only giving their blood, or plasma, or platelets, but also their time. While you are at the front desk or working at the refreshment tables, you meet people with the same mindset as yours, strike up a conversation and make friendships.  It is a very rewarding experience,” he says.

More than 25,000 volunteers support Red Cross Blood Services. Besides being a Blood Donor Ambassador, volunteers can also serve as transportation specialists, playing a vital role in delivering lifesaving blood products to nearby hospitals. If you’d like more information about volunteering opportunities near you, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

When Ron is asked about his overall experience as a volunteer he proudly says: “It is always a privilege to be a Red Cross volunteer, particularly because it’s a non-political organization. It is there to serve all humanity. I like the idea to serve anybody and everybody.”