In the healthcare system, finding a match for an HLA patient is considered especially difficult. At Michigan Blood, the dedicated staff who donate for these patients are members of an elite squad known as HLA donors. These are their stories.

Wednesday
Nov132013

Carolyn DeWitt

Being an HLA match makes me feel more of a responsibility to donate.  Knowing that my platelets so closely match a patients’, I think, ‘what else can I do that is lifesaving and only requires a little bit of my time?’  It doesn’t cost me anything and I just get a nice feeling knowing I am helping someone else. I am happy to help someone in need because I never know if I may someday be that person in need.

For one thing, donating HLA is a special type of donation because you are closely matched with a patient that will greatly benefit health wise from your donation.  By donating when asked, you are helping both the patient and Michigan Blood by providing that donation when it might not be possible by another donor.

By donating, we are setting an example for our donors. Anytime we donate, the chance of contact with the public gives us an opportunity to discuss the importance of donating blood.

Wednesday
Nov132013

Bob Eluskie

I have always considered donating blood to be one of the most random acts of kindness a person can do. Donating for an HLA match is a random act of kindness but when I know I am helping save the life of a specific patient, the donation becomes very personal. I have donated several times for an HLA match. I often wonder if the same person has needed my blood over a couple of years or if I have helped multiple people. It really doesn’t matter, but what I do know is that someone needs my specific blood at a specific time so I do what is necessary to meet the need.  

Working for Michigan Blood and donating for an HLA match provides you with another means of sharing a story with a family member or friend about how donating blood met a specific need that day. This opens the door for a conversation about donating blood in general.

I think it is important for staff to do whatever they can to promote blood donations and support our life saving mission. That may be donating blood, hosting a blood drive as a donor chair or talking to others about our mission just to name a few. By doing so, you connect with the organization like you won’t otherwise do. I want other people to know that working for Michigan Blood is more than a job, it is very rewarding and fulfilling to be part of this organization. I came to Michigan Blood from education and taught college classes for several years. I often tell people how rewarding it was to be a part of someone’s personal growth but to be part of making a life saving difference takes that to a whole another level.  Therefore it is important for me to practice what we preach by donating and supporting our cause. 

Wednesday
Nov132013

Todd Masters

I do feel a sense of urgency and importance when I make a platelet donation as an HLA match.  I know that when Donor Contact asks me to donate, there is a specific need, and it puts my priorities in perspective in relationship to that of a patient who really needs my platelets.

I commend my fellow Michigan Blood colleagues who donate, knowing that Donor Contact is usually very respectful of our time and only comes to us when they have exhausted other options and a patient is really in need of our blood.

Wednesday
Nov132013

Jaela McQuillan

Donating for a specific person made me feel much more connected to our mission than I ever had before. Knowing that my blood was a match for someone, and that they were depending on me, made the process feel really important. I always know when I donate that my blood is being used to help those in need, but to know it was being sent to a specific person for a specific purpose made the connection between donor and patient very real. On the other hand, being an HLA match made me nervous – what if my iron was low or a full unit couldn’t be drawn!? I didn’t want to let the patient down.

For employees who are willing and able, I think blood donation creates a loop of understanding about what we do at Michigan Blood. For me, it helps provide a better understanding of the donor experience, and I think it makes me a stronger advocate because I’m better educated about the process. I’ve also experienced the urgency and importance of donating for someone specific, which impacts my view. I know it could be my family someday that needs the HLA matched donor who is willing to take 1 hour of time to give.

Wednesday
Nov132013

Shad Risk

Mostly, I am very happy that I can significantly impact another person’s life in this way. It’s a real chance to make a difference. I feel like donating is a great fit for me because I try to take good care of my body. As a result I can use my body to help others. Knowing that this donation could be helping someone in grave need give me tremendous motivation. 

Simply put, a match maybe the difference between life and death for someone. I’m not sure how you can say no to that proposition.   

This is twofold. You’re helping others by giving the gift of life and you’re helping to write your own paycheck.  It’s a win/win. Most people don’t have the ability to impact their community the way we do in their place of employment. We should cherish the opportunity we have before us. 

Wednesday
Nov132013

Brandon Shelson

I enjoy doing the HLA donations.  I find it fulfilling knowing that my donation is going directly to someone.  It makes that donation feel a little more special.

I think it is important for staff to donate for an HLA because they have the proper antigens a specific person needs.  My understanding is for some patients there are very few donors who match their need.  It is great when staff can donate for an HLA match so they can be an ambassador to the public on their experience. 

I think all staff that are able and eligible should donate blood.  To help do our part in keeping the blood supply filled, but more importantly to be a good steward of the products and service we represent.  If we are asking people to give blood, we should be willing to do so also.  I did not give blood until I worked for Michigan Blood.  I felt it was my duty to at least give it a try.