Author Archives: Cari Dighton

A mother’s motivation

By John Lindner

Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood for surgeries, cancer treatments, chronic illnesses or traumatic injuries. Because less than 38 percent of the population is eligible to give blood or platelets, hospitals in the U.S. are very dependent on donations from those that are eligible to donate.

Elizabeth Crisafulli with her daughter, born prematurely at 28 weeks.

Every blood donor is motivated to do so for different reasons. Elizabeth Crisafulli discovered her personal motivation 22 years ago, when her daughter was born very prematurely at 28 weeks. The baby weighed just 2.5 pounds and needed an emergency blood transfusion. In addition to tapping into the blood products the hospital had on hand, some of Elizabeth’s friends donated blood. Her daughter is now a healthy 22-year-old.

When you speak with her, you get the impression that Elizabeth is on a mission. She has battled cancer twice, which temporarily postponed her ability to donate blood. Once she was cleared to do so, however, she was right back at it. She got frustrated once when she couldn’t donate because “something was too low.”

Like many of us, Elizabeth receives email notifications for blood donations which remind her to schedule her next donation. She goes to the same San Jose red Cross Blood Donation Center each time and sometimes brings her daughter along (her husband is not eligible to donate). Needles don’t bother her but she says, “I don’t watch it going in.”

Elizabeth praises the American Red Cross Blood Donor mobile app, stating that she “loves it,” adding that “it makes donating so simple.” The mobile app is extremely user friendly and helps you find local blood drives and donation centers, schedule and reschedule appointments and keep track of your donation history. “It even tells you where your blood went and how many lives it impacted,” Elizabeth said. “I’ve shared the app with my friends who have used it to donate.”

This writer was unfamiliar with the mobile app (called “Blood Donor American Red Cross” in the App Store and “Blood Donor” in Google Play). I downloaded the app after speaking with Elizabeth and have a feeling I will be donating more frequently, much like the others Elizabeth has influenced to do the same.

The impact of donating blood is huge – one donation can potentially save more than one life. Unfortunately, today the Red Cross is experiencing the worst blood shortage in over a decade. The blood supply is dangerously low, which has forced some hospitals to defer patients from major surgeries, including organ transplants.

It’s hard to say how many lives Elizabeth Crisafulli’s donations have impacted over the past 22 years, but it’s clear she will positively affect many more in the years to come. Thank you for your life saving donations, Elizabeth!

About the author: John Lindner is a Public Affairs volunteer with the Bay Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Red Cross: National blood crisis may put patients at risk

The American Red Cross is facing a national blood crisis – its worst blood shortage in more than a decade. Dangerously low blood inventory levels are posing a concerning risk to patient care and forcing doctors to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who must wait until more blood products become available. The Red Cross has issued a plea for blood and platelet donors to give now to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments.

In recent weeks, the Red Cross had less than a one-day supply of critical blood types and has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals as a result of the shortage. At times, as much as one-quarter of hospital blood needs are not being met.

When there’s not enough blood

Blood recipient Kala Breder and family.

Kala Breder knows all too well how dire a blood shortage can be. In July 2020, hours after the birth of her son by emergency Cesarean section, Kala developed a complication and began hemorrhaging. As doctors fought to control her bleeding, the blood supply was exhausted at the hospital and those within a 45-mile radius. Ultimately, she was air lifted to another hospital because there wasn’t enough blood locally.

Kala credits the 58 different blood products she received with helping save her life. “Without one of those, I probably wouldn’t be here,” she said. “I needed every last unit.”

Don’t wait – make your appointment to donate 

Please schedule an appointment now by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).If there is not an immediate opportunity to donate, please make an appointment in the days and weeks ahead to ensure the Red Cross can replenish and then maintain a sufficient blood supply.

Rush in to give blood or platelets Jan. 1-31 and you’ll automatically get a chance to score an exciting Super Bowl LVI getaway in LA for you and a guest! Plus, the Red Cross will give you a shot at a home theater package and $500 e-gift card in January. Terms apply; visit RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl for more information.

Leadership Development Center: Through the decades

Historic Red Cross youth conference pivots to create increased access for students

Youth development conference screenshot. Photo courtesy of LDC 2021.

This year, the American Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region hosted a four-day virtual youth development conference from June 21-24, attended by more than 225 student delegates and 20 youth staff. While this year’s Leadership Development Center (LDC) was modified due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it still provided an opportunity for youth ages 13-18 to develop and cultivate core leadership skills such as teamwork, public speaking and diversity awareness through virtual presentations, workshops and small group discussions. 

The staff prepared for seven months to plan the curriculum and activities for the conference, all from scratch. Camp directors Emily Elmore and Gaby Azcarate led the process, and while the directors and youth staff were afraid that some of the camaraderie that delegates get in their small groups would be lost in this modified format, they worked hard to make sure that planned activities included opportunities for delegates to get to know each other and work as a team, even in a virtual environment. 

“A positive note on the virtual conference is that it opened the door to have students attend who otherwise may not have been able to spend a full week with us in person,” said Allie Parker, Red Cross Volunteer and Youth Services Manager. “We were also able to invite more guest speakers to join us who may have had more difficulties attending an event in person.”  

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