STEPHEN SEXTRO IS DRIVEN TO HELP OTHERS AFTER HARD LESSONS OF COVID-19

DAYTON, Ohio – Stephen Sextro has learned some hard lessons from the COVID-19.  The first was that he couldn’t beat the coronavirus on his own. He survived a desperate drive to the emergency room and was even more surprised to wake up the next day. But he also learned that his blood is very rare and that it can help others.

Stephen made his first COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP) donation Sept. 8 at Community Blood Center. In July he spent eight days in the hospital, and some of that battle with COVID-19 is still a blur. But he is focused now on giving CCP to help with the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

“I knew I had it,” he said. “Me and my girlfriend got tested. Four or five days before, I didn’t feel good. The doctor said stay home and quarantine. If it gets worse, go to the hospital.”

First Stephen’s girlfriend was the first to need hospitalization. Two days later, it was his turn.

“I woke up with 103 degree temperature and drove myself to the hospital,” he said. “My girlfriend was being released when I drove myself in and was picking up our daughter when I got here.”  It was a harrowing journey from his east Dayton home to Kettering Medical Center and ended with a jolt. “I bumped into a pole when I parked my truck.”

He did not expect to make it through the night.

“The next day when I woke up – as bad as I felt when I drove myself there – I was surprised I was still alive,” he said. “I went to sleep and didn’t expect to wake up the next day. I felt so bad, I could hardly breathe.”

He said his doctor discussed a convalescent plasma transfusion but decided to wait. “It took a long time to recover,” he said. “Three and a half days to break it. I was six days before they were tuning down the oxygen.  They wouldn’t let me leave until I was off oxygen for 24 hours.”

He finally went home on July 18.

“I tell people I’m the only one I know that had it that bad,” he said. “My girlfriend was hospitalized for it, but I had it the worst.”

The experience of COVID-19 made Stephen aware that antibody-rich plasma from coronavirus survivors like himself is helping treat patients.

Through the process of becoming a CCP donor he also learned his blood is especially rare.  His blood type is AB-negative, found in only a small fraction of the population.  It also makes him a universal plasma donor for anyone in need.

SEPTEMBER SICKLE CELL AWARENESS MONTH: BROTHER & SISTER BLOOD BOND

DAYTON, Ohio – The sounds of harmony hangs in the air at the Copher house – violin, flute and ballet for Sydnei, 15, and piano for Antonio Junior, 16. The love of a, b, c, d, e, f, g – the seven notes of music – are in their blood. That’s not the only blood-bond the two siblings share; they also share sickle cell disease, a blood disorder impacting their red blood cells.

Synthia Copher first found out that she was a carrier for sickle cell disease when she was in elementary school. But after her and her husband, Antonio, lost a child Antonio was tested, and they discovered he was also a carrier. They were told that their children would have a one in four chance of having the disease.

Sickle cell disease causes the body to make sickle-shaped red blood cells. “Sickle-shaped” means that the red blood cells are shaped like a crescent. Normal red blood cells look like doughnuts without holes in the center. The shape allows the cells to move easily through your blood vessels.

Sickle cells are stiff and sticky. The sticky cells can block blood flow in the blood vessels, which can cause organ damage and can cause those with the disease to go into a sickle cell crisis.

A sickle cell crisis is marked by severe pain throughout the body as the blood cells “stick together,” trying to move through the body.

Both siblings are “frequent flyers” at Dayton Children’s, being hospitalized numerous times throughout their life with a sickle cell crisis. Last year, Antonio was inpatient six times. Prior to that, Antonio had gone years without being hospitalized.

“There’s not really a rhyme or reason for the crisis,” he says. “But the doctors attribute it to significant swings in the weather and a big growth spurt.”

Both siblings are excited to serve as Dayton Children’s ambassadors to help them continue to create a sense of understanding and harmony for others who have the same condition.

“They will say ‘sickle cell has me, but it doesn’t stop me,’” Synthia says. “I think that’s so powerful because despite the pain and sometimes setbacks, they don’t miss a beat.”

Both Antonio Jr. and Sydnei regularly see Mukund Dole, MD, pediatric hematologist and oncologist and program director of the West Central Ohio Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, who helps manage their sickle cell disease. Antonio is also closely watched for asthma and minor kidney issues. Antonio Jr. started taking piano lessons five years ago from an instructor at Stivers, where his sister Sydnei attends high school and is actively involved in the orchestra and dance.

“Piano calms me when I’m feeling bad,” says Antonio. Sydnei shares her broth- er’s sentiments, “Music and dance make me feel free,” she says. “I can’t have a bad day when I’m floating in the air.”

Growing up, they learned something was different when they wanted to try different activities like track and field and had to sit out in gym class. They were quickly encouraged by their mom to try something else, like music.

“I remember getting really winded when I was on the playground around kindergarten and asking my mom why,” Antonio shares. “We started to understand that we weren’t like other kids that could run and jump, but we could play music.”

Giving back is contagious in the Copher house. Synthia’s focus on the positive led her to get involved in the sickle cell advisory committee, become a parent partner at Dayton Children’s and join the Midwest Ohio sickle cell collaborative. Last year, Antonio Jr. donated a generous portion of his earnings from his first job to the West Central Ohio Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center. And Sydnei has been actively involved in volunteering at the Foodbank after the tornadoes struck Dayton over Memorial Day.

“Getting involved in our community gives us an outlet to share our story of hope with others,” she said. “I want other moms to know that although their child may have this illness, some days will be hard and you will spend time in the hospital, but you will survive this.”

When Antonio was first diagnosed at his newborn screening, I remember being very overwhelmed about what I read online, I was so worried that he wouldn’t live a normal life,” Synthia shares.

Though they knew the risks, they experienced shock and a ‘déjà vu moment’ when they welcomed Sydnei into the world and learned she too had sickle cell disease.

Though both teens suffer from a life-long condition, most would never know based on their positive attitude and active roles in the community. “It took me awhile to flip my attitude from one of fear and worry for my kids into something positive,” Synthia shares. “And my positive attitude caught on. Both kids are actively involved in volun- teering in the community and raising awareness about sickle cell disease.”

Story reprinted from Dayton Children’s Hospital

‘SPINNING TO ADVANCE APHERESIS MEDICINE’ ON APHERESIS AWARENESS DAY

DAYTON, Ohio – Community Blood Center is proud to join the American Society for Apheresis (ASFA) in celebrating Tuesday, Sept. 15 as Apheresis Awareness Day, now officially recognized on the third Tuesday in September.

The purpose is to raise awareness of apheresis treatments made possible by platelet, plasma, double red blood cell and COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP) donations and to honor the apheresis donors and practitioners dedicated to helping save lives.

Platelet and plasma donors are in high demand. These blood components are critical for the treatment of cancer, trauma, transplant, and burn patients.

Registration and screening are similar to a whole blood donation, but the actual donation takes a little longer. Blood is drawn from one arm and channeled into an automated system. It spins the blood, separating and collecting platelets or plasma, then returns all remaining blood components to the donors.

The automated centrifuge process is why “Spinning to Advance Apheresis Medicine” is the slogan for Apheresis Awareness Day.

Automated double red blood cell donations are encouraged for type O donors. Safely donating two units of red cells helps increase the supply commonly used in surgery and the emergency treatment of trauma patients.  

CBC asks apheresis donors to take part in the “Big 6 Platelet Challenge” by donating at least every two months and collecting all six t-shirt designs.

CBC also encourages COVID-19 survivors to become “Crisis Warriors” by donating their antibody-rich plasma for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. CCP donors receive the “COVID-19 Crisis Warrior” t-shirt.  

Find out more at www.GivingBlood.org  or talk to an apheresis specialist at (937) 461-3220.

MEET SOME OF CBC’S PLATELET DONORS:

Dayton donor Betty Rabold has 393 lifetime donations and will soon become only the fifth female donor at Community Blood Center to reach 400 donations. “She is always willing to come in when we need her and calls often to see if we need her!” said CBC account development representative Nicole Thruston. Betty began donating n 1975 and has been a platelet donor since 1991. “I’ve always tried to come about once a month,” she said. “This is a good thing that I can do, and I keep on coming back.”

Springfield donor Brian Lindamood began donating platelets and plasma in 2011 and now has 83 lifetime donations.  He donates monthly at the Maiden Lane Church of God community blood drive. “He is very eager to donate and always encourages people to donate,” said Nicole. “When he had to take a year off for health issues, he encouraged his son to donate and now his son is a regular donor.”

“I am inspired to donate by the constant need for platelets or plasma in the local community,” said Brian. “It is the way I have chosen to give to those in need. Sort of a ‘pay it forward.’ When I get a message that my blood was used to save a life it makes me feel good that I could help. 

“Anyone who is thinking of donating should at least give it a try. The process is straight forward and easy. The staff is very kind and make you feel at ease. You will be glad you did!”

Beavercreek donor Kurt Lafky has been donating whole blood and platelets since 2008 and has 78 lifetime donations. “He is so passionate about giving,” said Nicole. “He donates as much as he can at his church (Patterson Park) and in the Dayton center.”

Springfield donor Todd Arantz is a new platelet donor who has made a big impact at CBC.“He moved here from Tennessee in January and has become a regular donor by donating 14 times already this year,” said Nicole. “I started donating platelets to help cancer patients and anybody in need of platelets,” said Todd. “I would tell anybody that is looking to donate to jump in and do it. The CBC staff is awesome and make it a very easy process.”

ADAM RAVESTEIN FOLLOWS 10-GALLON DONATION WITH A VERY DIFFERENT MILESTONE

DAYTON, Ohio – They time of COVID-19 has upended norms and dealt out the most unexpected challenges.  Dayton donor Adam Ravestein never imagined that the celebration of his “10 gallon” blood donation would be followed immediately by another milestone: His first COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP) donation.

Adam donated his antibody-rich plasma on Sept. 3 at the Dayton Community Blood Center to help with the treatment of coronavirus patients. “I made my 80th donation (the equivalent of 10 gallons) eight weeks ago,” he said. “But I’ve never donated plasma before. It’s my first time doing this, but I’ve been coming in here and doing it for years.”

Adam is a blood type O-negative donor who makes regular visits to donate whole blood at the Dayton CBC. As a “universal donor” his blood type is in constant demand because it can be given to any patient in need.

His more than 40-year career in landscaping has included 25 years with Siebenthaler’s Garden Center and 17 years with Scarff’s Nursery in New Carlisle.  

The work has kept him active and outdoors. His positive test for COVID-19 came as a surprise.

“I was just one day with a sore throat,” he said. “We were going to be heading out of town and I wanted to be sure. I had no idea where I picked it up from. My wife was tested, and it came back negative.”

They postponed traveling until after he tested negative.

“I never had any other symptoms,” he said. “I was expecting to be negative. My first reaction when I got it was, ‘How in the world did that happen?’ I was very careful when I was around customers. Social distancing, I wear a mask, I don’t go into their homes. Most of my work is from home. I go to see the house but meet them outside to see their landscape.”

The experience inspired a very different plan for his 81st donation. “They had talked about convalescent plasma on the news and my wife mentioned I should look into it,” he said. Adam and his wife Deborah have three children and eight grandchildren.

“When I got notified that I was able to give again, I went ahead and called about my situation and wanted to see if I could help,” he said.

MEMORY OF ‘BIG ED’ LENDENSKI STILL INSPIRING DONORS AT 9TH ANNUAL BLOOD DRIVE

WEST MILTON, Ohio – Former students of Milton Union High School Principal “Big Ed” Lendenski say he never failed to remember their face and greet them by name.  Many remembered him by donating in his honor at the ninth annual Ed Lendenski Memorial Blood Drive hosted by the West Milton Lions Club Sept. 9 at West Milton United Church of Christ.

Community Blood Center is in critical need of donors due to the challenges of the COVID-19 and the long Labor Day weekend.  The memorial blood drive totaled 70 donors including 47 whole blood donations and seven platelet donors.

 Ed Lendenski served Milton Union as a coach, athletic director, and MUHS principal for 23 years. His wife Carolyn and family began the memorial blood drive in 2012 after losing him to the bone marrow disorder myelodysplastic syndrome. The blood drive honors donors for the multiple transfusions he received during his treatment.

“He would just be amazed!” Carolyn said about the blood drive celebrating its ninth year. “He was a wonderful man. He loved his kids and he loved the teachers.”

The ninth annual blood drive came with necessary changes to protect against COVID-19, including social distancing and wearing face masks. Even with face coverings, Carolyn was quick to recognized old friends and former students, including 1979 Milton Union graduate Mike Hines.

“He’s probably the best principal West Milton ever had,” said Mike, who made his 47th lifetime donation Wednesday. “It didn’t matter when you graduated, if he saw you, he called you by your name.”

Ed came to Milton Union in 1963 as a teacher and head coach of basketball, baseball, and assistant coach of football. In 1968 he was surprised to be offered the job of principal – “You only get asked to move up once,” he told Carolyn, “you can always move down,” – and retired in 1991.

Mike believes Ed would still remember him if he could seem him today, despite his long beard, face mask, and the multiple scars from a motorcycle accident that nearly clamed his life in 2011.

“I nearly lost a leg,” said Mike. “They talked about taking it off, but I had a great doctor who said he could save it. I shattered my arm and pelvis. I got nine units of blood and four platelets after my accident.”  

After recovering, Mike was inspired to begin donating.  He made his first lifetime donation at the first Ed Lendenski Memorial Blood Drive at Transfiguration Catholic Church in 2012.

“I said, all the times I’ve talked about it through the years, it’s time to do something.”

“I think of when Ed was going through treatment,” said Carolyn. “Without all that blood, he would not have survived as long as he did.”

BLOOD COLLECTORS WEEK IS A SPECIAL TRIBUTE IN TIME OF COVID-19

DAYTON, Ohio – Community Blood Center, in partnership with AABB and Fresenius Kabi, is celebrating the 15th annual Blood Collectors Week September 6-12. This event honors all blood collection professionals whose work save lives each day.

Blood collectors serve as the vital link ensuring patients receive the blood components they need.  Their work has been more vital than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Blood donation and blood collection were deemed essential work during the pandemic lockdown to avert the additional health crisis of a blood shortage.

In early April CBC became the first blood center in Ohio to begin collecting COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP) from donors who tested positive to COVID-19 and recovered. Their antibody-rich plasma continues to be in high demand at area hospitals and outside the CBC region for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Blood Collectors Week was co-created and is sponsored by AABB, an international association for individuals and institutions in the fields of transfusion medicine and cellular therapies, and Fresenius Kabi, a global health care company that specializes in medicines and technologies for infusion, transfusion and clinical nutrition.

During this week, CBC will join more than 270 blood centers across the U.S. celebrating their blood collectors who have gone above and beyond to create a positive donor experience and ensure a steady blood supply.

“Every day, our staff puts their strength, passion and experience to work to ensure patients receive the blood components they need,” said CBC Collection Services Director Kay Ollech. “This has been especially true during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  We are proud you and thank you for being truly extraordinary people through this very trying year.  I can’t emphasize enough the impact all of you have had screening and drawing our donors under so many difficult situations.”

Health care professionals associated with blood collection include phlebotomists, apheresis operators, medical directors and donor recruiters.

Thank you to all of CBC’s hard working employees!

GIVING BLOOD – AN ESSENTIAL LABOR BY ESSENTIAL HEROES

DAYTON, Ohio – Hero donors filled the beds at the Dayton CBC Friday for the Essential Hero Blood Drive with a free Kroger gift card as a thank you. More than 208 people registered to donate whole blood, platelets, plasma and COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP).

This response was vitally important with CBC confronting a critical need for O-positive and A-positive blood, and all types needed with the challenges of maintaining the blood supply through the long Labor Day weekend and the full week of Labor Day.

We could use the help of even more heroes. Honor all workers this Labor Day and help boost the blood supply by donating. 

Everyone who registers to donate Saturday, Sept. 5 will receive a Kroger $10 gift card, plus the new “We Are All In This Together” face mask and the “Time to Save a Life” t-shirt. Donors must make an appointment and wear a face mask. Schedule your donation at www.DonorTime.com or call (937) 461-3220.

CBC enters the fall season with one-third of the September blood drive schedule cancelled. Many businesses and high schools have cancelled their fall blood drives because employees are still working from home, and many students are now learning from home.

“Holding blood drives and donating blood were considered essential activities during the height of the pandemic,” said CBC Donor Relations Director Tracy Morgan. “The impact of COVID-19 on our lives continues and the essential need for blood has not changed. We are counting on ‘essential heroes’ to keep the blood supply strong during this Labor Day weekend and to help us meet the challenges of the fall.”

ENCOURAGING MINORITY BLOOD DONATIONS IS PART OF SEPTEMBER SICKLE CELL AWARENESS MONTH

DAYON, Ohio – September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, designated by Congress to help focus attention on the need for research and treatment of sickle cell disease. This year’s theme is ‘Sickle Cell Matters.’

Community Blood Center is collaborating with the West Central Ohio Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at Dayton Children’s Hospital to increase awareness and education about the need for minority blood donations for adults affected by sickle cell disease. Many adult and pediatric sickle cell patients receive frequent blood transfusions to help manage their disease and prevent serious complications including stroke, acute chest syndrome, and severe anemia.

Sickle Cell Sunday is observed annually in Ohio, on the third Sunday in September during National Sickle Cell Awareness Month. We encourage members of African American and Hispanic churches/ faith-based organizations to participate in this statewide initiative.

Activities for Sickle Cell Awareness Month and Sept. 20 Sickle Cell Sunday

 Educate yourself and others about sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait.

 Motivate others to support those affected by sickle cell disease by donating blood.

 Host a health fair and invite a speaker to talk about sickle cell disease and blood donations.

 Donate to the Regional Sickle Cell Project or take up a special offering for patient care.

 Promote Sickle Cell Awareness Month during the month of September.

 Encourage everyone to wear burgundy ribbons and/or attire on Sickle Cell Sunday.

 Hold a candle light ceremony to honor those who lost their battle with sickle cell disease.

 Sponsor a blood drive at your place of worship by calling the Community Blood Center at 937-461-3220, or visiting http://www.givingblood.org/ formoreinformation. Visit givingblood.org to check eligibility.

8TH ANNUAL ED DANIEL MEMORIAL BLOOD DRIVE COMES TOGETHER

HUBER HEIGHTS, Ohio – The eighth annual Ed Daniel Memorial Blood Drive Aug. 29 at St. Matthew Evangelical Lutheran Church came with the unique challenges of COVID-19. But 38 donors helped Tina Daniel honor her late husband by filling all appointments and totaling 38 donations for 127 percent of the collection goal.

“It’s really good this year, I’m surprised!” said Tina, who maintained her own tradition of being one of the first to donate and made her milestone 25th lifetime donation. “They were asking me questions, ‘How’s it going to be Tina? Is it going to be safe?’ But my neighbors are here, and I have friends from work coming.”

Ed Daniel was known as “The Donut King” when he operated Daniel Donuts stores in Huber Heights and Fairborn.  He benefitted from blood transfusions during his five-year battle with mantle cell lymphoma.  It was Ed’s wish to host a blood drive to thank donors. Tina and her daughters sponsored the first Ed Daniel Memorial Blood Drive in August of 2013.

One precaution this year for Tina was not having her daughters with her at the blood drive. “My daughter Ashley is about to deliver next month,” said Tina, “and my other daughter Abby had one back in January.” Abby’s seven-month old Aubrey is Tina’s first grandchild.

Loyal donors at the blood drive included Huber Heights mail carrier Matt Crumley and his wife Christy who grew up with Tina’s daughter Ashley.  Matt interrupts his Saturday delivery rounds to stop by and donate, and he has never missed the Ed Daniel Memorial Blood Drive.

“I tell work I have to leave,” said Matt. “I give my situation and they let me go.” “I like to help,” said Christy. “This is a nice reason to remember a person and give back.”

Tina and Christy wore blood drive t-shirts with Ed’s name and Cincinnati Reds logo, his favorite team.  Tina chatted with fellow church member Jacqueline Bunke as she made her 47th lifetime donation and greeted donor Adrian Otto, wife of Huber Heights council member Glenn Otto.

Tina commonly recruits her co-workers at Southview Medical Center, including her friend Susan Lynd. “I wasn’t eligible last year because I had just donated,” said Susan. “So, this year I made sure and I even changed by appointment.”

“I thought it was not going to be a good turn-out,” said Tina, “but it came together.”

‘ESSENTIAL HERO BLOOD DRIVE’ IS FRIDAY AT DAYTON CBC

DAYTON, Ohio – Honor all workers this Labor Day and help boost the holiday weekend blood supply by donating at the “Essential Hero Blood Drive” Friday, Sept. 4 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dayton Community Blood Center, 349 S. Main St. 

Everyone who registers to donate will receive a Kroger $10 gift card, plus the new “We Are All In This Together” face mask and the “Time to Save a Life” t-shirt. Donors must make an appointment and wear a face mask. Schedule your donation at www.DonorTime.com or call (937) 461-3220.

CBC has a critical need for donors entering the holiday weekend because there is a limited number of mobile blood drives scheduled Friday and Saturday and no blood collections on Sunday and Labor Day Monday.

CBC enters the fall season with one-third of the September blood drive schedule cancelled. Many businesses and organizations have suspended their fall blood drives due to continued COVID-19 related interruptions to their normal operations.

Friday is traditionally the biggest day of the week for high school blood drives, but that has changed with the COVID-19 pandemic.

High schools that began the year with remote learning or limited in-person classes have cancelled their CBC blood drives. The high school blood drives still scheduled have reduced capacity and could eventually be cancelled.  CBC is projecting a loss of 2,000 units from high school blood drives alone.

“Holding blood drives and donating blood were considered essential activities during the height of the pandemic,” said CBC Donor Relations Director Tracy Morgan. “The impact of COVID-19 on our lives continues and the essential need for blood has not changed. We are counting on ‘essential heroes’ to keep the blood supply strong during this Labor Day weekend and to help us meet the challenges of the fall.”