EL CENTROÂ â€” Christmas giving continues as several people extended their generosity by donating blood to help someone they may never know. For first time donors, it may be disquieting. However, encouragement from a friend can make blood donation endurable.
Isabel â€œIzzyâ€ Gutierrez seemed uneasy as she lay on a patient bed December 28 inside the LifeStream blood mobile parked at El Centro Regional Medical Center.
Blood flowed through tubing from her right arm into a special bag that was continuously agitated by a machine.
â€œThis is my first-time donating blood. Iâ€™m a little bit scared and nervous,â€ Gutierrez admitted.
A few minutes later, her friend Sara Fink, also a donor and waiting her turn, reached for her smart phone and took photos of Gutierrez who responded with a smile and by making a â€œVâ€ or victory sign with her left fingers. Gutierrez and Fink have been friends since their freshmen days at Imperial High School ten years ago, they said.
â€œIt is a little bit scary, if it is your first time,â€ saidÂ Fink, who has been donating blood for the past two years. â€œBut it makes you feel proud of yourself. This will be my fourth successful donation. Today, I feel good.â€
â€œI donate blood because I know thereâ€™s a blood shortage; and to help people, and maybe save lives too,â€ Fink said, justifying her reason for donating blood.
Justice Campbell-Rodriguez, 16, who has donated twice in the past, shared her experience donating blood. â€œItâ€™s relaxing in a way. The prick on your finger hurts more than the needle. Everyone should donate.â€
â€œItâ€™s mostly to show the importance of donating blood and saving lives of cancer patients, trauma patients and anyone who needs a blood transfusion . It is a life-changing procedure for patients when they do receive it,â€ explainedÂ Alice George, mobile supervisor with LifeStream whose corporate office is based in La Quinta.
â€œThe one thing that man can not manufacture, is blood,â€ George said.
The blood mobile supervisor said certain protocols need to be followed for donating blood.
Among them, a donor should be well hydrated, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds, eat a good breakfast about an hour before donation, must have good vital signs, and have sufficient iron â€” an important component of hemoglobin present in the blood, plus answer a series of screening questions. If underage, they must have parental consent.
â€œAnd if you pass our screening process, we are more than happy to accept you you as a donor,â€Â George said.
She stated a dayâ€™s goal is to get 21 pints from donors in the community. That is one-pint of blood from each donor. One pint, she added, will benefit three adult recipients or eight baby recipients. The LifeStream blood mobile was open for service from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
LifeStream provides blood services in Imperial, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. Recently, they have extended services to Los Angeles County.