BLIND DONOR LARRY SMITH SEES ONLY LIFE’S BLESSINGS

DAYTON, Ohio – It’s not easy being Larry Smith. He was born blind on the Fourth of July and abandoned on the steps of a state orphanage. He survived a cruel childhood to become a model citizen and a Hall of Fame blood donor.  On June 19 he achieved his milestone 400 lifetime donation, and as always, made it look easy.

“I feel wonderful. I just feel so good about this,” said Larry as he reached his milestone with a combined platelet and plasma donation. “I just want to keep on going. I want to keep donating and keep trying to help people.”

Larry has been a donor for decades, and a platelet donor since 2004. In 2015 he was inducted into the Fresenius Kabi Donation Hall of Fame.

CBC nominated Larry with the story of how he braved a winter storm on the day after Christmas 2012 so he could make his scheduled blood donation.  It was an important donation because the storm cancelled all blood drives that day and closed the Dayton CBC moments after Larry donated.

Larry remembers the darkest days of his childhood when he was malnourished and had lost the will to live.  But he was rescued and nurtured by the kindness of a new house mother and a reform movement at the home.  His health improved and he made his way in the world as a Dayton hospital darkroom worker, marathon runner, choir singer, and blood donor.

Larry donates twice a month at the Dayton CBC, and he has not allowed the threat of COVID-19 to interrupt his schedule.  He will turn 82 on July 4th, so he now avoids taking the bus as a precaution. His friend, fellow marathoner and fellow donor Steve Wirick drives him to CBC and on June 19 made his 220th lifetime donation.

It’s not easy reaching 400 donations, and even Larry admits, it’s not easy being Larry Smith.

“No, it isn’t,” Larry said. “But I’m going to tell you something. I had people behind me, and the greatest thing of all the Good Lord above. He made it possible. All I can do is thank Him for all the good days I’ve had. Even the bad times can make you strong. When you look back on it you can go either way, you an be bitter or you can take advantage of it and use it to somehow help other people.”

He never complains and he considers himself fortunate.

“There are worst things,” he said. “I think about people who have got so much worse off. When you think about it, I really got it made.  I’ve got things to be thankful for, I can say I feel blessed, and because of that it makes you want to be able to find a way to help other people and this is one way I can do it.”

So how does it feel to be milestone donor Larry Smith?

“Really great. Way back when, I wasn’t sure I was going to get this far. I can hope, I can see it, but back then it was way in the distance. I thought too many things can happen in between times, something could happen that you could no longer donate. You think of these possibilities and you know it could be a possibility. Turned out I was able to get where I’m at. 400. Wow!”

NO ICE CREAM SOCIAL, NO COUNTRY CONCERT, BUT PLENTY OF SUMMER DONORS AT ST. MICHAEL’S HALL

FORT LORAMIE, Ohio – Ohio had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 when St. Michael’s Hall hosted its winter blood drive on Feb. 18.  The world has changed in the past four months, and donors saw noticeable changes on June 16 when St. Michael’s opened its doors for the summer blood drive.

There was no ice cream social in the Donor Cafe at this year’s summer blood drive (there was free ice cream to go).  No homemade sandwiches, and no Fort Loramie Community Service Club volunteers to serve them. Another tradition absent from the blood drive was the drawing for Country Concert tickets. In this strange summer of COVID-19 there will be no Country Concert. 

But true to St. Michael’s, there were donors. A total of 308 registered, with 292 donating whole blood and another 16 giving platelets and plasma.

St. Michael’s Hall blood drives are the largest in Shelby County. The three St. Michael’s blood drives in 2019 totaled 870 donors and earned another Platinum Award from Community Blood Center for blood drive excellence.  Despite current safeguards that include mandatory face masks and appointments, social distancing and no open refreshments, St. Michael’s is on Platinum pace once again.

“I haven’t given since December,” said Osgood donor Gail Wendel. “I feel comfortable. I’m a nurse. I’ve seen a lot of forward movement for sure. It was a scary situation for people. You have to take precautions. It’s a virus, it could re-emerge. This is an education and I think it makes a difference. This is something you can do. If you don’t feel comfortable then don’t.”

Shelby Bohman is a nursing student at Wright State University’s Lake Campus who made her seventh lifetime donation Tuesday.  She started donating at Fort Loramie High School. “My first time was on my 16th birthday,” she said, “and I got my driver’s license the same day.”

Her in-person nursing classes ended two days after spring break and the rest of the semester was online. “We had a clinical rotation that we had to do online in a virtual hospital,” she said. “It was tough, but we worked through it.”  This summer she’s working part time in the Miami Valley Hospital ER and as an EMT.

Madison Rose from Fort Loramie finished her freshman year at Xavier University online. She decided to come with her mom Kelly to the blood drive and made her first lifetime donation.

“I’m pretty optimistic right now,” said Kelly, who along with Madison wore the “Hero” face masks they received from CBC.  “All along, the number of cases has stayed down in this area.”

“I’ve donated the same amount,” said platelet donor Mike Doseck from New Bremen. “We take precautions at home and stayed at home. As things looked up, we’re still cautious.”

Shelby County Commissioner Tony Bornhorst is a regular at St. Michael’s blood drives and arrived Tuesday wearing a patriotic face mask to make his 116th lifetime donation.

“I think they’re going to restart relatively quickly,” he said about the challenges to local governments and the economy. “The problem will be if cases spike again through the state. If we don’t fall of the wagon, I think things will recover.”

SISTERS SHARE SORROW & HOPE AS THEY DONATE COVID-19 PLASMA TOGETHER

DAYTON, Ohio – Rosemary Saunders worried as she grew older about her adult son Ed with Down syndrome. Who would look out for him when she was no longer around?  Then COVID-19 came and turned the world upside down. 

The coronavirus has been capricious in the way it divides families. It took Ed’s life on April 3 but spared Rosemary and her sister Margaret.  Eight weeks later, on May 28 the two sisters traveled from their homes in Pleasant Hill to donate COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP) side-by-side at the Dayton Community Blood Center.

Since early April CBC has been collecting the antibody-rich plasma from COVID-19 survivors to help patients critically ill with the virus at local hospitals and outside the region.

“We do what we can do,” said Rosemary as she turned to Margaret, “to make a good situation out of a bad situation.”

Rosemary’s son Ed Kauffman was 50 years old and diabetic, “but a pretty healthy and a happy boy,” she said. He loved bowling, playing in the Riverside Bell Choir, and serving on the Champaign Residential Services, Inc. board.

“Ed and I talked about how one of us is going to probably have to live without the other,” she said. “I tried to prepare him, so he’d know how to live without me. All that talking to him, now I had to learn to live without him. It’s part of life. We lose people.”

It was in late March that Ed began to show symptoms. “He had a great team and was doing pretty good for the first five days,” said Rosemary. “It was up and down, and we knew it was out there, and we wanted to be careful.

“It took a bad turn. By the time we got him to the ER they had to sedate him and put him on the ventilator right away.” He was transferred from Upper Valley Medical Center to Miami Valley Hospital, then placed in isolation.

“I never got to see him,” said Rosemary. “The nurses tried to help me talk to him, comfort him, to hear my voice, but that was the most that we could do.”

Rosemary knew she was exposed to COVID-19, but her symptoms were mild. “I self-isolated for two weeks and didn’t have a test until April 17.” A day and a half later she learned she was positive.

Meanwhile, Rosemary’s sister Margaret Brown was working at SpringMeade Healthcare Center, a nursing care facility in Tipp City. “We knew what we were getting into,” she said. “I had a fever, dizziness, body aches. I stayed home and got tested on March 26.”

She got the results on April 5, two days after her nephew’s death. “I was positive. I was in isolation for two weeks.”

She learned that fear of COVID-19 outlives the infection. “People don’t want to be around you,” she said.

She read about participating in the CCP program on the CBC website. She printed out the doctor’s form and called her sister.  Soon they were scheduling their plasma donations at CBC.

“They said we’ll get you guys down here together so you can drive together,” said Margaret. “I had never donated blood.” Margaret finished her donation before Rosemary, then sat with her in the Donor Café.

“We wanted something good to come out of this for someone,” said Margaret. “Something positive.”

CBC COVID-19 CONVALESCENT PLASMA PROGRAM

By the end of May, the Community Blood Center COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma program had totaled 57 donors, most of them repeat donors, with 183 units prepared for shipping to hospitals and other blood centers.To be eligible to give CCP donors must have a diagnosis of COVID-19 through RNA testing – NOT by an antibody test.  Potential donors can review the CCP eligibility criteria and doctors can complete and submit the form to qualify donors at www.GivingBlood.org.  

MAYOR NAN WHALEY GIVES SUPPORT TO HERO MASK CAMPAIGN, WORLD BLOOD DONOR DAY

DAYTON, Ohio – In the most trouble times, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley makes time to donate blood.  She came to the Dayton CBC Donation Center June 15 hoping to donate in support of World Blood Donor Day and to promote the CBC “Hero” mask campaign.

Mayor Whaley was deferred from donating because of a recent vaccination (about 10% of people who register to donate are deferred for various reasons: http://givingblood.org/donate-blood/who-can-donate.aspx). But she immediately made an appointment to donate as soon as she is eligible, which will be during the July 4th holiday week, a traditionally challenging time for maintaining the blood supply.

Mayor Whaley encouraged blood donations in the wake of the August 2019 Oregon District shootings. She donated during Christmas week to promote CBC’s “New Year’s Resolution Blood Drive.” She donated on March 18 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to encourage blood donations as an essential activity for the public health. Her June 15 visit came after the recent demonstrations against racism that included Dayton.

“I’ll be back here in (three) weeks to give blood which I try to do regularly,” said Mayor Whaley. “Particularly during this time of COVID when the need is very great. It’s very easy to schedule, get yourself in and it’s something great to do for your community that’s easy to do. They have these great masks. I really appreciate what the blood center does for our community, and the people who support it which are the blood donors.”

The COVID-19 pandemic forced severe limits on blood donations over the past three months and CBC’s “Hero” mask campaign is a reminder that the community needs heroes to help rebuild the blood supply. World Blood Donor Day comes during a time of multiple challenges to the regional blood supply.  CBC used the observance to ask donors to “make two appointments and keep them.”

 The mayor’s visit happened to coincide with the latest donation of Wendell Clark, CBC’s top donor. Wendell donated platelets June 15 for his 724th lifetime donation.  Mayor Whaley chatted with Wendell, thanked him for his dedication to blood donations and exchanged elbow bumps.

HONOR JUNE 14 WORLD BLOOD DONOR DAY WITH 2 PROMISES TO DONATE

DAYTON, Ohio – June 14 World Blood Donor Day comes during a time of multiple challenges to the regional blood supply.  Community Blood Center reminds the community that blood donations are essential and asks for a commitment to “make two appointments and keep them.”

The purpose of World Blood Donor Day is to raise awareness of the ongoing need for blood and to thank donors for helping others.  The 2020 theme, “Give blood and make the world a healthier place,” speaks to the ongoing challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, donors across the U.S. responded when Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams challenged everyone to keep social distance but stay socially engaged by donating blood.

Area blood donors helped CBC stockpile a strong blood supply as the pandemic worsened. But the need continues as hospitals return to pre-COVID-19 usage, along with the traditional summer challenges of vacation travel, no high school blood drives, and increases in accidents and trauma cases.

Blood and blood components are essential to help people survive trauma, surgeries, childbirth associated bleeding, cancer treatments, bone marrow transplants, immune-deficiency conditions, and so much more.

“Our mission is to ensure when you go to the hospital and need blood, you never worry if it will be available,” said CBC Donor Relations Director Tracy Morgan. “We can’t do it alone. We challenge you to make two or more appointments to donate this year, keep those commitments, and encourage others to help save lives.”

Schedule an appointment at www.DonorTime.com or call (937) 461-3220. Everyone who registers to donate will receive the new “Hero – Giver, Lifesaver, Donor” face mask and the free “Wake Up & Give” t-shirt.

THE LONG JOURNEY FOR COVID-19 SURVIVOR & PLASMA DONOR JENNIFER MEYER

DAYTON, Ohio – Jennifer Meyer thought an exciting adventure abroad would be awaiting her when she arrived in Spain.  Instead it was the horror of COVID-19.

Jennifer is a recently retired elementary school teacher who lives in Centerville. She’s also a COVID-19 survivor who on June 3 made her third donation of COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP) at the Dayton Community Blood Center for use as a treatment for patients critically ill with the coronavirus.

It was three months earlier, on March 3 when she rendezvoused with three friends for a three-week Spanish vacation.  One member of the group is originally from Spain and would serve as a personal guide.

Just a few days into the trip she got news from home that her 91-year-old mother had fallen and broken her hip. As she agonized about returning home, the whole vacation unraveled. COVID-19 cases spiked in Spain, and an advisory came from the U.S. State Department, warning Americans to return home immediately or risk being stuck abroad for an indefinite period.

“It was crazy there,” said Jennifer. “All of a sudden, everything shut down and people packed into the airport.”

“It was nuts,” she said. “People were walking around, scared faces, children crying – nobody knew if we were going to get home.  We packed up and went to the airport, but we couldn’t get out.”

They spent the night at a nearby hotel and felt lucky to get a flight the next day. “It was a crazy couple of days,” she said. “The hotel we stayed in, the next day they turned it into a hospital.”

COVID-19 cases were surging in the U.S. and soon they discovered symptoms of infection. “All four of us had fevers,” she said. “It lasted four days. My chest was a little tight, that’s about it.” She tested positive for COVID-19.  It was a mild case, but she could not be near her mother.

“She was without me for two months,” Jennifer said. “I couldn’t get in her building, they’re very strict. They let caregivers come in, but you have to have a negative test.  It’s horrible. She fell again and is not doing well.”

After two more COVID-19 tests, Jennifer finally tested negative. The experience made her painfully aware of how many elderly people were suffering from loneliness as they remained isolated from loved ones.  For many, the mental strain was as dangerous as the disease.

“She’s lost a lot of friends,” said Jennifer, “because they were so depressed.”

It was a source of inspiration to learn she could help COVID-19 patients by donating her antibody-rich plasma at CBC.

“It sounds corny, but I just feel it’s turning something good out of something bad,” she said. “I wanted to help someone that needed this.”

She’s on a schedule now to donate CCP every two weeks. Being able to see her mother again gives her hope for her mother’s healing.  Getting alerts about how her plasma was used gives her hope for others.

“I get voice messages,” she said, holding up the email transcription on her smartphone. “This is Community Blood Center,” it reads, thanking her for her donation “sent to save a life at Kettering Medical Center.”

“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate getting that,” said Jennifer. “It’s very cool. I love doing it and knowing it went to good use.”

HEROES NEEDED TO HELP REBUILD BLOOD SUPPLY

DAYTON, Ohio – The COVID-19 pandemic has forced severe limits on blood donations over the past three months and Community Blood Center needs heroes to help rebuild the blood supply.

Beginning Tuesday, June 2 CBC will thank all registered donors with a free “Hero – Giver, Lifesaver, Donor” face mask in addition to the free “Wake Up & Give” t-shirt.

Donors must have an appointment and must wear a face mask at CBC blood drives.  Make an appointment at www.DonorTime.com or call (937) 461-3220.

“This summer is full of uncertainties,” said CBC Donor Relations Director Tracy Morgan.  “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to limit our activities, even as hospital usage returns to pre-COVID levels. We need the heroic efforts of donors to keep the blood supply strong against the challenges summer always presents, and the continued challenge of COVID-19.”

Blood collection fell to historic lows during the height of the pandemic with CBC suffering a projected loss of 7,551 blood units.

From mid-March through May 196 blood drives were cancelled, including 77 percent of the blood drives scheduled in April. Nearly all blood drives that continued as scheduled did so at reduced capacity.

Blood drives were exempted from the stay-at-home order as an essential activity, but they continued with increasing restrictions, including social distancing that limited the number of donors.

Only the dedication of donors and a substantial drop in hospital usage prevented a blood supply crisis.

From mid-March through May, reported blood usage at CBC’s partner hospitals fell more than 21 percent. In March alone usage dropped nearly 30 percent from an average of 118 units per day to 83 units per day. Hospital blood usage rose to 104 units per day in May but remained 12 percent below average.

Hospital blood usage is returning to normal with the reopening of activities across the region. Hospitals are reminding the public that hospitals are safe and encouraging people not to delay care.

The rising demand for blood donations comes with the traditional summer challenges. The increase in vacation travel and outdoor activities distract people from donating. There are no high school blood drives during the summer break, and emergency rooms see more accident and trauma cases.

CBC is welcoming experienced and first-time donors to support the summer “Wake Up and Donate Blood Drive” campaign.  Everyone who registers to donate with CBC now through Oct. 31 is automatically entered in the grand prize drawing for a custom-comfort Sleep Number bed.

RABBI’S SON MENDEL MANGEL WAS FIRST TO GIVE PLASMA FOR COVID-19 PATIENTS

DAYTON, Ohio – Manachem Mendel Mangel, the 21-year-old son of an Oakwood rabbi, wore a yamulke and a face mask when he arrived at Community Blood Center on the evening of April 6.  The world was in the grip of a pandemic and he was the first person known to have tested positive for COVID-19 to be openly welcomed into CBC’s Donor Room.

CBC was hurrying to launch an investigational program to collect COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP) for the treatment of local COVID-19 patients. Past pandemics had shown that antibody-rich plasma from coronavirus survivors could help infected patients survive.

Menachem, who goes by Mendel with his friends, settled into a donor bed and became the first former COVID-19 patient in Ohio to donate CCP.  His plasma went immediately to Miami Valley Hospital where it was transfused to a critically ill patient.

On May 28, nearly eight weeks after his first donation, Mendel was again at CBC, returning for his fourth CCP donation. “Obviously it was more dramatic the first time,” he said. “As long a they still needed me and I’m available, I’ll come. Although this will probably be the last time.”

Mangel is going back to his marketing job in New York after spending much of the past three months in Oakwood.  He is the son of Rabbi Nochum Mangel of the Chabad Lubavitch of Greater Dayton synagogue. He was visiting for Passover when he tested he positive for COVID-19 on March 18.

Rabbi Mangel learned about CCP donations from Wright Patterson Medical Center physician Maj. Evan Fisher who is a member of the synagogue.

Maj. Fisher and fellow Wright-Patt physician Maj. Matthew Koroscil had launched their own independent research on convalescent plasma used in prior viral infections. They talked about collecting CCP at Wright-Patt, but instead reached out to Dr. Roberto Colón at Premier Health and Dr. James Alexander at Community Blood Center for help building a fledgling CCP program.

Maj. Fisher said the remaining challenge was finding a donor. It had to be someone confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 and was now cured.

“I think I have one living in my basement,” Rabbi Mangel said about his son, who was quarantined from the family.

“Dr. Fisher was talking to my father about the program and that’s how I got involved,” said Mendel.

On April 6 Mendel tested negative for COVID-19 at Miami Valley Hospital, indicating he could no longer infect others. He then went directly to CBC to donate his plasma.  Maj. Fisher and Dr. Alexander were there to support him as he donated. His CCP was processed into three doses and sent it Miami Valley Hospital.

His blood type is AB-negative, which is ideal for CCP. He continued to donate at CBC during his extended time in Oakwood.  He spent two weeks in New York, then returned to Oakwood in late May for the Jewish holiday Shavout.

“I left before it really kicked in and the city shut down,” he said. “Going back now, it’s where more people have been exposed to it and don’t have it. They’re in a much later stage of this than Ohio.”

He may be in his final stage as an active CCP donor. He considers himself “on call” when needed and will always be part of a special club.

“It’s very nice,” he said about the growth of the CCP program since that dramatic first donation. “It’s great for people to give back. I’m glad to do my part.”

STRONGER TOGETHER AT ‘DONOR STRONG BLOOD DRIVE’

DAYTON, Ohio – The community is “stronger together” in the struggle against COVID-19, especially when we are “Donor Strong.”

Community Blood Center put out a call for action and donors responded by supporting the Friday, May 29 “Donor Strong Blood Drive” at the Dayton CBC Donor Center and helping throughout the week with an immediate need for type O-negative blood.

Type O-negative blood was in short supply following high usage over the Memorial Day weekend. More than 103 donors came to the Dayton CBC Thursday, May 28 and gave 68 blood donations, including 36 units of type O. The need for type O-negative continues, but a severe shortage was averted.

It’s a transitional time as hospitals in the CBC region resume surgical procedures and patient treatments that were paused during the spring and the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. CBC must increase collections as Ohio re-opens and hospitals treat more patients with blood needs. All of this is coupled with the traditional demand that comes as summer gets underway.

The May 22 “Donor Strong Blood Drive” helped prepare for the holiday weekend by totaling 141 donors. One week later, 100 donors responded to help CBC meet the goal of the May 29 “Donor Strong Blood Drive.”

CBC thanked donors by offering the remaining supply of the January Blood Donor Awareness Month “Donor Strong” long-sleeve t-shirt.

Teri Hunley is a loyal platelet donor who makes it a routine to work her overnight shift at the Englewood Walmart, then donate Friday mornings on her way home from work. Walmart remained open as an essential business during the stay-at-home order.

“They cut the hours down, but we were still in there working,” said Teri. She kept up both her work and donation routine with one change.  She now wears a homemade “Ohio State” face mask as she donates.

Louis Huart from Kettering wore the original “Donor Strong” Blood Donor Awareness Month t-shirt to give platelets Friday for his 265th lifetime donation.  “I dug into my shirts and saw it and said that looks good!” said Louis. “It’s always blood donor shirts or Dayton Flyers shirts!”

Centerville’s Grace Thorstenson made her eighth lifetime whole blood donation Friday at the Donor Strong Blood Drive, marking her “one gallon” milestone.  Grace started donating at Alter High School, where she graduated last year.  Her freshman year at Miami University has been turned upside down by COVID-19.

“My dad works at the base and is a blood donor and I’ve donated at Wright-Patt,” said Grace. “When I’m in town I like to come here to donate. Since I was home, I donated here two months ago.”

Like college students everywhere, Grace has been taking virtual classes and working online at home. She hopes to return to the Oxford campus for in-person classes in the fall.

“I’ve heard about going back early in August and being done with the semester by Thanksgiving,” she said. “But nothing official, that was just talk.”

Uncertainties remain about COVID-19 this summer, but giving blood remains essential to the health of the community. Grace is among the many keeping the blood supply “Donor Strong.”

SUPPORT ‘DONOR STRONG BLOOD DRIVE’ MAY 29 TO AVERT BLOOD SHORTAGE

DAYTON, Ohio – Type O-negative blood is in short supply following high usage over the Memorial Day weekend. Community Blood Center is encouraging all donors to support the “Donor Strong Blood Drive” Friday, May 29 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dayton CBC Donor Center, 349 South Main St.

Everyone who registers to donate will receive the “Wake Up & Give” t-shirt. Donors must make an appointment online at www.DonorTime.com or by calling (937) 461-3220.

Blood usage is changing as the community faces a transitional time in the COVID-19 pandemic. Community Blood Center must increase collections as hospitals treat more patients with blood needs, including surgeries and trauma cases.  This increased demand comes as summer gets underway with its traditional challenges to the blood supply.

The May 22 “Donor Strong Blood Drive” helped CBC prepare for the Memorial Day weekend. The blood drive totaled 141 donors, including 119 whole blood donors and 22 platelet and plasma donors. CBC has set a similar goal of more than 100 donors for the May 29 “Donor Strong Blood Drive.”

To safeguard everyone against COVID-19, all CBC donors must wear a face mask. To help maintain social distancing at blood drives CBC is requiring donors to make appointments. If all appointments are filled, donors are asked to please schedule on a different day.

The goal of the May 4 – Oct. 31 “Wake Up & Donate Blood Drive” it to meet the traditional increase in demand for blood donations during the summer months. CBC is challenging donors to collect all three t-shirt designs during the campaign.  Everyone who registers to donate will be automatically entered in the drawing to win a custom comfort adjustable Sleep Number bed.