All In: Donor Gives Blood and Estate

by Gary Lynch, director of Development & Sustainability

James Hellams, loyal platelet donor“I’m a platelet donor, but I don’t feel at ease without a knife or fork,” quipped James Hellams, OKC. His enthusiasm for our life-saving mission has driven him to give 71 gallons (and counting). That’s about 568 times in a donor chair. That’s plenty of time to become renowned as the ‘class clown’ of the central OKC donor center! Now, James is taking his commitment even further. He has designated the Blood Institute as the sole beneficiary of his estate.

James has no immediate family, yet wants to be sure he leaves a legacy with the sizeable estate he has been fortunate enough to accumulate. James’ faith has profoundly influenced his belief in the sanctity of life, and leaving his entire estate to the Blood Institute manifests that belief.

Our Legacy Society honors financial contributors who include the Blood Institute in their estate plans. James will be listed among these generous contributors. Learn about the various ways you can support our life-saving mission.

New Mother Saved, Thanks to Donors

By Sunshine Wingfield, Community Relations Intern

Bryan and Katy Roybal could not have been more excited as the couple welcomed its first child into the world: a precious baby girl named Jane. But only a short time after delivery, Bryan noticed his wife seemed pale and shaky.

Katy Roybal and familyBryan says it quickly went from being the best day of his life to the worst as he watched Katy fight for her life. Doctors discovered Katy was hemorrhaging, and she was immediately rushed to surgery. The procedure did not effectively stop the bleeding, and Katy hemorrhaged a second time. She then underwent an emergency hysterectomy. In total, she needed 22 units of blood plus platelets.

I shudder to think about what would have happened if there hadn’t been blood available,” Katy said. “Without those who donated, my daughter would not have her mother, and my husband would be raising Jane alone.”

Having almost lost his wife in 2011, Bryan was inspired to become a blood donor. “I plan on giving regularly now,” he said.

“We are grateful to all the people who gave blood and saved my life,” said Katy. “They have given our family a second chance.”

Schedule your life-saving donation at a donor center or a mobile drive near you!

African Blood Centers Helped

African blood centers helped Recycling equipment for blood centers in underdeveloped countries is a primary function of Global Blood Fund. From portable beds to weight scales, laptops to blood pressure machines, all are valued by these centers seeking to build a voluntary blood donor system to support patients in their hospitals. Wealthy countries’ cast-offs can make a world of difference.

A consignment of life-saving blood bank equipment is ready to ship to Uganda - and you could help send it! It follows a shipment already delivered to Zimbabwe. Follow this map at to track the shipments to Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Find out how you can support the Global Blood Fund.

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“I Wouldn’t Even Be Here.”

Bobbie WalkerBobbie Walker, Clarksville, has a personal reason to encourage people to donate blood. In May, 2011, she underwent a routine medical procedure at Johnson Regional Medical Center. A complication from medication put her in unexpected and serious trouble.

As she fought for her life, she needed blood from eight donors with Arkansas Blood Institute. Two units of platelets and plasma were also transfused. Eventually, Bobbie made a strong recovery and now enjoys a healthy life. She is employed at Clarksville Community Health and Rehabilitation.

Arkansas Blood Institute donors provide every drop of blood needed by all 13 medical facilities in the River Valley area.

“I wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for those people who took the time to give blood. They didn’t even know who they would eventually help,” she said. Bobbie realizes that her emergency need that day is no different than that of hundreds who daily find their lives dependent upon life-saving blood donors.

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Making Momma Proud!

Jarrett Talbott models his honor cord. Congratulations to all 2013 high school graduates - especially the 548 who received blood donation honor cords, like Jarrett Talbott. “Thank you for allowing my son to donate blood throughout his high school years,” wrote Keisha Talbott, Jarett’s mom. “It has helped teach him how to be responsible.” Graduates in 210 different schools earned blood donation honor cords.

Honor cord recipients donate blood at least six times after turning 16! Students who accomplished this earn a certificate and cord to wear at graduation. Through the Honor Cord program, students learn the community impact they can have in saving lives. If you’re 16 or older and enrolled in high school, start earning your honor cord now by giving blood!

If you are a high school student in our service area, register in the Honor Cord program and make a difference in someone’s life.

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Innovation: Cord Blood Bank Planned

Babies photoEvery day, umbilical cord blood that can save lives is discarded. Without a local, public umbilical cord blood bank, most mothers have no option to donate it. That will change later this year when the Blood Institute opens Oklahoma’s first and only cord blood bank. It will be one of only 20 nationwide to meet rigorous accreditation standards. As a national leader in transfusion medicine and affiliate of the National Marrow Donor Program, the Blood Bank is uniquely qualified with the most advanced technology for blood processing and testing within the region.

Cord blood is an alternative to embryonic stem cells. There are no ethical or moral concerns regarding umbilical cord blood. Currently, the umbilical cord is disposed of as medical waste after a baby is born.

Yet, there are thousands in need of stem cell transplants for blood cancers and other disorders. Stem cells play a key role in regenerative therapies used to treat diseases ranging from diabetes to heart disease. As more treatment successes are found, stem cells from umbilical cord blood have the potential to revolutionize care for the most life-threatening diseases.

Once the program is launched, our cord blood clinicians will inform expectant mothers of the opportunity to donate. It is free to the parents, and the donation process is simple and painless. After delivery and separation of the cord from the baby, the mother’s physician or nurse will use a syringe to collect the blood. Donation doesn’t change the delivery process and is only performed in an uncomplicated delivery with a healthy mother and baby.

For many families celebrating a joyous time in their own lives, cord blood donation will provide a way to, potentially, bring life-saving joy to someone else’s life. If you would like to support the Blood Institute to make this program a reality, contact Gary Lynch, Blood Institute Director of Development, 405-297-5545.

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The Reality of Giving

Jim OrlanderJim Orlander, Arkansas Blood Institute (ABI) donor, knows that giving blood is a good feeling. And he has been doing his part to save lives for many years. He recently received his 25 gallon pin in Fort Smith.

Though Jim feels a sense of accomplishment from his donations, he says his greatest moment was when a patient’s son thanked him for donating platelets. The son shared that his dad was dying of cancer, and the platelets were helping keep his dad alive so the family could have a little more time with him and say good-bye. This emotional experience is a constant reminder for Jim of the reality of how his commitment to donate is changing the lives of others.

Schedule your life-saving donation at a donor center or a mobile drive near you!

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End-of-Year Giving

It’s lucky for blood centers that red and green are the dominant colors at the end of the year. During the holiday season, blood centers usually see their blood inventories decline, because folks are so busy preparing for the festivities. Luckily for the Blood Institute this year, the donors have been generous with their time and blood, and our blood inventories are strong. Luckily for our blood donors, charitable donations are still tax-deductible and the Blood Institute is a charity. We hope you will take this time as the end of the year approaches to consider making a charitable donation to the Blood Institute. Every monetary gift helps us provide blood to those who need it in our communities. The holidays are about giving, and giving blood or money to the Blood Institute means you are also giving hope, health and healing.

Happy Holidays!

Contact Gary Lynch, Development Director at 405-297-5545 for more information.

Learn more about supporting the Blood Institute with your finances or give online.

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Little Survivor Gives Thanks

Last December, Isabelle Ratcliff was just returning home for the holidays. The eight-year-old, Tuttle girl had spent months in the hospital battling leukemia. But as her strength began to return earlier this year, she and her mother took a very important outing. The two visited an Oklahoma City donor center to give thanks to donors giving blood. Isabelle wore her special shirt proclaiming, “I’m ALIVE Thanks To A Blood Donor.”Recipient Thanks Donor

“The donors brought back memories for Isabelle,” said Rebekah Ratcliff, mom.

In the summer of 2011, Isabelle ran a high fever that wouldn’t break. She was sent to the Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center. Before she could undergo tests, she had to be given two units of blood and a unit of platelets. Tests revealed Isabelle had leukemia.

While spending five months in the hospital, Isabelle received numerous blood transfusions, and today she is cancer free. She and her family realize the value of blood donation, and hope that by showing their appreciation in person, they can be an encouragement to donors.

When asked to explain what happens with donated blood, Isabelle remarked, “They send it to the hospital, and give it to kids who need it.” And though the process is a bit more complex than what she described, Isabelle definitely understands and is grateful for the life-saving gift of blood this holiday season.

Schedule your life-saving donation at a donor center or a mobile drive near you!

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Staying Busy

Colleen Smith, VolunteerColleen Smith, Moore, OK, has never had a problem staying busy since she retired five years ago. She has plenty of interests and shows no sign of slowing down. At the Blood Institute,  she’s found a variety of ways to make a difference with her skills and personality.

Colleen enthusiastically welcomes blood donors, helps them feel comfortable and keeps things moving for a positive experience. She has volunteered at many blood drives and enjoys meeting people in a very busy environment.

“I have donated blood since 1995, and I know that a good first impression can make a major difference at community blood drives,” Colleen said. “Giving blood is something simple that people can do to help others, so I want them to feel valued for what they are doing.”

Colleen particularly likes the organization’s mission and community involvement. “I can contribute my ideas and work with others toward a common goal,” Colleen added. In addition to serving at blood
drives and marrow registration events, she meticulously organizes the volunteer calendar and serves as a blood drive coordinator at the church she attends.

Collectively, our volunteers give more than 30,000 hours annually in a variety of fulfilling roles and also contribute a positive spirit that’s unsurpassed.

More volunteers are needed. Flexible times and a variety of medically-related and administrative roles are available.Anyone 16 or older can inquire about volunteering.

Find out how you can become a volunteer with Arkansas Blood Institute!
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Bob Grant