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  • Fri, September 29, 2017 11:30 AM | Steve Bolton (Administrator)

    As the nation watched, Hurricane Harvey ripped through Texas breaking one record after the other. Then came hurricanes Irma and Maria—and history repeated itself in Florida, Puerto Rico and beyond. All regions saw severe damage caused by these massive and incredibly destructive storms.

    Across the country, generous blood donors answered the call to give blood to help patients in the hurricane-ravaged areas and replenish the supply for those in their own communities. Blood Systems, along with other blood centers, stepped up to help Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center in Houston, OneBlood in Florida and Banco de Sangre de Servicios Mutuos in Puerto Rico by shipping the blood components they needed until each could begin collecting blood again. Blood Systems stands ready to ship additional blood to Puerto Rico if requested.

     

    In addition to sending blood, Blood Systems offered its employees, donors and blood drive coordinators the opportunity to help out with a financial contribution.

     

    Blood bankers are often kindred spirits, so it was a simple and heartfelt request for Dave Green, CEO of Blood Systems, to make to his own staff. In an email to them in late August, he wrote: “Blood Systems is setting up a way for you to make a charitable donation to directly help Gulf Coast blood center employees, people who share our commitment to saving lives. Many of them have been impacted by the hurricane and more than a dozen have lost their homes.”

     

    Employees, board members and even consultants responded to Dave’s request. As of late September, nearly $40,000 was collected to assist Gulf Coast staff in need and more contributions were still coming in.

     

    “I am humbled by the incredible outpouring of support from our employees to help alleviate the challenges faced by our colleagues at Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center who were personally impacted by Hurricane Harvey,” Dave says.

     

    But Blood Systems employees were not the only ones to lend a hand. The organization’s donors and blood drive coordinators were given a similar opportunity to help. Donors and coordinators earn points for donating and organizing drives. They can redeem those points for thank-you items in an online rewards store. In addition to boosting the blood supply during this time, many donors and coordinators designated their earned reward points to support United Way of Greater Houston. Because of their outpouring of support, Blood Systems will send United Way a check for more than $67,000.

     

    “Not only did our amazing donors and coordinators quickly respond to the need for blood and platelet donations,” says Rob Van Tuyle, president, Blood Systems blood services division, “but they further demonstrated their incredible willingness to help others by designating their well-earned reward points to assist the relief efforts in Houston.”

     

    Note: Blood Systems is setting up similar outreach in support of Hurricane Irma relief efforts in Florida.


  • Wed, September 27, 2017 10:23 AM | Steve Bolton (Administrator)

    This hurricane season, without a doubt, will go down in history as monumental. Harvey, Irma and Maria will be remembered as the three hurricanes that impacted millions of people. For the blood industry, these storms strained resources in unprecedented ways. OneBlood’s footprint stood in the middle of one of those historic hurrricanes. Irma was the largest hurricane on record in the United States. It impacted all of Florida and forced blood centers in the storm’s path to suspend collections for several days.

    But just prior to Irma hitting the Southeastern United States, OneBlood managed to help others affected by the devastating hurricane season. Over 300 units of blood were send to Texas following Hurricane Harvey. The center sent hundreds of units to Puerto Rico before and after it was devastated. 

    But then the test came for OneBlood as Irma shut down its operations for an unprecedented three days. “We were proactive before the storm arrived and made sure our hospital partners had additional blood products on-hand to be able to ride out the storm”, said Bud Scholl, OneBlood Chief Executive Officer.  “Not being able to collect for three days we knew we would be facing a blood shortage when the storm cleared so we put the wheels in motion early on with blood centers around the country who sent additional units to help augment our supply”, said Scholl.

    The blood community responded with incredible force to help ensure a ready blood supply in Florida.  As soon as the skies cleared blood started arriving. “I am absolutely incredibly grateful to the national blood banking community and the OneBlood team members that all put forth such an incredible effort,” said Scholl. “I really can’t say enough about the incredible response by blood centers around the country that without hesitation sent additional blood products to us.  It is moments like this that bring out the best in people, which renews all our faith in humanity,” said Scholl.


  • Mon, September 25, 2017 2:00 PM | Steve Bolton (Administrator)

    The inequities in blood safety and availability between rich and resource-poor countries represents a world transfusion crisis. Each year, hundreds of thousands of deaths occur that could be prevented if blood were on hand to enable transfusion. Women in childbirth and young children with anemia are disproportionately affected.

    As with most crises, there is no single causal factor. Many blood centers operating in low-income countries face multiple challenges in serving local patients, ranging from the lack of a coherent national policy framework to shortages of money and appropriately skilled staff. But visit any blood center or transfusion service in the United States and compare it to the equivalent in many African, Asian, and Latin American countries—particularly outside of major cities—and one aspect of inequality is immediately apparent: the basic equipment necessary to collect, test, and process blood safely and efficiently.

    Given international financial disparities, this might, of course, be expected. But this particular aspect of inequality is especially regrettable since U.S. blood banks routinely dispose of hundreds of millions of dollars-worth of equipment each year. Much of this discarded material is perfectly serviceable and is simply being displaced as part of routine upgrade programs created to acquire the latest and best technology. And what happens to the no longer-needed equipment? Some is recycled; more ends up in landfill. Sadly, very little finds its way to struggling overseas blood banks.

    Fortunately, there are relatively easy ways to re-home used equipment and surplus supplies. While barriers to exporting these still-valuable goods exist, resources are available to overcome such challenges. The old adage states that charity begins at home, but there is no reason why blood bankers (and other laboratory professionals) cannot extend that spirit to their workplaces.

    Overcoming barriers to re-homing

    The first obstacle is lack of awareness about existing inequalities. In transfusion care, too many blood bankers assume that transfusion medicine across the globe is experienced by practitioners in much the same, effective ways. Worse, in the course of regular business little thought or discussion is devoted to these matters. It is not surprising, therefore, that scant consideration is typically given to how to mitigate global inequities. A long term education effort—of which this article seeks to be a small part—is required to increase understanding of the gulf between rich nations and poor.

    Another barrier is the informational gap that impedes successful matching of gifts to recipients. The principle that there are those that have and those that need is easily established: identifying that blood center A has something that is required by blood center B (on another continent) is much harder. Some blood collectors have developed exclusive relationships with overseas collectors; for example, England’s NHS Blood and Transplant has a long-term support arrangement with the national blood transfusion service in Uganda. This can work well in many ways, such as skills transfer, but less so in relation to equipment when what the better-resourced partner has to give may not meet (in type or quantity) the immediate needs of the other center. Conversely, what the intended beneficiary requires may not be available from the donor institution. A better idea is an international equipment exchange network where detailed information profiling can match donor institutions with potential recipients. Such a tool exists in https://www.gbfeqxchange.org/exchange/, a cloud-based portal that connects donors and recipients.

    Another set of challenges exists in researching and resolving the many technical variables in play when contemplating equipment donation. It is necessary to ensure that the equipment is a good fit across many parameters. This applies at a most basic level (voltage of electrical equipment, for example) but also pertains in relation to the availability of skills required to install, operate, repair, service, and maintain the donated equipment. Likewise, there needs to be assurance that sufficient resources are available to purchase consumables and meet any other costs of ownership. Some equipment—donation beds for instance—can be readily received by most blood services. Others, such as component collection systems or sophisticated testing technology, place demands on the receiving organization such that they can rarely be re-homed successfully without the involvement of the manufacturer, or at least co-operation from an engaged local distributor.

    The remaining barriers are experienced most directly by those who work at the front line of donation: time and money. Re-homing equipment is usually far removed from the core business objective (although, with imagination, it can successfully engage staff, local media, and other community stakeholders), and there is often little institutional slack to absorb additional costs and duties. But donation requires resources: freight charges need to be met and logistics need to be managed (with specialist knowledge). Even if potential donors have the necessary money and staff, they may have minimal experience in exporting and be easily daunted into inaction. Partnering with experienced non-profits that are committed to getting valuable equipment into the hands of new owners in developing countries, such as Global Blood Fund, Matter and Afya Foundation, can relieve many of the  logistical burdens and costs. 

    Ethical considerations

    To adequately gauge your decision to pursue re-homing opportunities, it is worth considering some ethical dimensions. Three arguments against donation are often levelled.

    The first of these is that the donation may undermine growth of indigenous capabilities. If, for instance, there is a local centrifuge manufacturer and donation of “pre-loved,” no-cost equipment of this type will impact its sales that foster self-sustainability, then the donation, however well-intentioned, would potentially be unethical.

    The second argument centers on sustainability: will a donation change operating procedures in a manner that can be maintained over the longer term, or will it be necessary (at the end of the useful life of the donated equipment) to revert to former practices? This is important, because the loss of something previously enjoyed is always more keenly felt than the absence of something never experienced, and the long-term progress of the resource-challenged blood bank is of paramount importance. Opinion is divided on this point, although many argue that in an uncertain future, where equipment is expected to provide at least several years of service, this concern should not be used as an excuse for inactivity.    

    Although it is true that older, less-sophisticated technology is sometimes more appropriate for resource-poor settings, a third ethical contention centers on the quality of equipment being donated. By shipping pre-used items, blood banks from prosperous nations risk being accused of pushing sub-standard—or at least less desirable—goods onto poorer neighbors. Most times equipment will have been operationally deployed up to the point of availability/donation and rarely goes from serviceable one day to unfit for purpose the next. However, care must be taken that donated equipment is, indeed, still serviceable and can be supported on location by the supplier or its agents. It is incumbent upon the donor to assess the quality of the gift and not to off-load equipment that offers only marginal benefit.

    Impact of re-homing successes

    Encouragingly, there are numerous success stories to build upon in global blood banking. Over the past few years millions of dollars worth of equipment has been re-homed. Dozens and dozens of organizations have collaborated to expand the reach and quality of transfusion care.

    Bloodmobiles have found a second lease of life in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where they add greater flexibility to blood drive deployments and allow access to previously inaccessible communities. Portable beds are providing more comfortable donations in Nigeria, Mexico, Cambodia, and Lesotho. A better experience is especially important to encourage new donors to return to give again. Blood mixers are helping make every donation count, by preventing needless losses due to clotting in the collection bag in places as far apart as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Peru.

    This equipment is not only providing huge benefit; it also is creating significant economic leverage. Bloodmobiles that might otherwise have been sold at auction, stripped, and used as recreational vehicles, and beds that could have been sold as scrap for salvage parts, would return only minimal funds to the disposing center. On the other hand, for a relatively small investment—often just five percent to 10 percent of the depreciated value—the equipment can be given to under-resourced blood centers that would otherwise be unable to afford it. Gratifyingly, such donations continue to provide their designed value, improving the lives of donors and patients.

    Call to action

    As blood bankers and laboratory scientists we are, of necessity, experts at multi-tasking. When it comes to the disposal of equipment that is being retired from service, a new task you should add to your protocols is determining its potential to be re-homed to a blood bank in need. As with so many of your duties, lives hang in the balance based on your care with this step. 

    Email: info@globalbloodfund.org

    Reprinted with permission from Medical Laboratory Observer, October 2017

  • Fri, September 22, 2017 11:27 AM | Steve Bolton (Administrator)

    Oklahoma Blood Institute and Tulsa-based Saint Francis Health System have teamed up to pioneer a first-of-its-kind program that enables blood recipients to thank their individual blood donors. This will improve blood supplies by allowing donors to know the personal impacts they make on the lives of others. It will also have pro-social benefits across the community by empowering connectedness and an Attitude of GratitudeTM.

    This program will allow patients to send a note, photo or video to their actual blood donor using their smart phones, tablets or computers to visit the ThankTheDonor.org website.  Step-by-step instructions make the process easy to follow and a patent-pending process maintains anonymity for both the blood donors and recipients, thus preserving important privacy protections. As permitted by the sender, a donor’s thank you can be shared with wider audiences, such as Saint Francis Health System staff or Oklahoma Blood Institute social media followers.

    Saint Francis is the first hospital in Oklahoma to give patients who receive blood this unique option to Thank-The-DonorTM.  Because of their unwavering commitment to service and their forward-thinking approach to healthcare, Saint Francis is a natural partner for Oklahoma Blood Institute to publicly launch this health and humanitarian innovation. 

     “Not many patients ever get the chance to meet and thank their blood donors face-to-face,” said John Armitage, M.D., president and CEO of Oklahoma Blood Institute. “Thank-The-Donor breaks the communication barriers and offers a new and different way to share a ‘thank you!’ We know this personal connection will inspire our wonderful donors to keep saving lives through their irreplaceable gift of themselves.”

     

    Every two seconds someone needs blood—this is an eye-opening statistic. Holly Benningfield, 19, of Tulsa, is just one of the many lives saved by having access to donated blood products.  Holly, a college student, fought and won a battle against leukemia in high school.  She needed blood transfusions from 22 donors during her cancer treatments.  She takes every opportunity she can to thank Oklahoma Blood Institute donors for saving her life.  Stories like Holly’s make the gift of blood donation personal and powerful, and can inspire donors to continue their commitment to giving.

     

    “When I got that blood, my energy just shot through the roof, I was so happy,” Holly said.  “Thinking about all those people who have donated, they’re the reason I get to be here.  It’s a wonderful experience to know that someone cared, and wanted to help you.”

     

    Oklahoma Blood Institute serves more than 160 hospitals and medical facilities in Oklahoma, including Saint Francis Hospital and The Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis.  Oklahoma Blood Institute is the local, non-profit, independent blood center that relies solely on volunteer donors committed to saving the lives of Oklahomans.  More information is available at obi.org.


  • Wed, September 20, 2017 3:29 PM | Steve Bolton (Administrator)

    ADRP encourages you to celebrate your teams and show the world how amazing our industry is!  Share photos of your team in action (at staff meetings, celebrations, or one-on-one with your donors) and be sure to tag #ADRPcelebrates in all of your posts. ADRP will award a complimentary 2018 ADRP Annual Conference registration to the posts with the most “likes” to one donor collections professional and one donor recruiter.

    The celebrations kicked off with the 12th annual Blood Collectors Week September 3 – 9, 2017.  This year’s slogan, “Blood Collectors Make Giving Grow” only reminds us how important of a role our collection staff plays in this life-saving process.  Then Wednesday, September 20th is International Donor Recruitment Professionals Day when we highlight the dedicated efforts of recruiters in saving lives. 

  • Tue, July 18, 2017 8:26 AM | Steve Bolton (Administrator)

    Global Blood Fund (GBF) recently facilitated the handover of a donated bloodmobile at a donor recruitment event in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. The bus, donated by San Diego Blood Bank, was received by the Minister of Health for Yucatan at the 2º Congreso internacional Donación Voluntaria de Sangre held June 26 – 28, 2017.

    GBF has handed over a total of 7 bloodmobiles this year with others delivered to Asia and Africa. Bloodmobiles add value to the receiving donor centers by providing operational flexibility and access to new communities in a safe, comfortable donation and working environment. Receiving organizations benefit from added visibility for public awareness and signal a high-profile "step up" for health services within poorer countries. Often these are the first vehicles of this type to be deployed in the receiving countries.

    Gavin Evans of Global Blood Fund said, “We are always on the look out for new bloodmobiles [that are] retiring or no longer compliant with emissions legislation. We have a waiting list of state blood services in Mexico and would look after all logistics and costs involved in the re-homing of the donated vehicles.”

    In addition to equipment exchange, GBF also facilitates the program, Open Arms, that allows donors to make a charitable donation in-lieu of taking a t-shirt or other recognition item, and instead the blood center makes a financial donation to GBF (equivalent to the value of the gift) on the donor’s behalf. 



    Media attend the handover of a bloodmobile in San Diego, California and the reconditioned vehicle in Yucatan, Mexico. Pictured are Ministry of Health representatives with Martin Gomez of Blood Systems, Inc. and Gavin Evans of GBF.

    In 2008, Oklahoma Blood Institute founded the 501(c)(3) non-profit, Global Blood Fund (GBF). During the past decade GBF through its mission to reduce the inequalities in blood safety and sufficiency between rich and poor countries has grown in influence and impact among the global blood banking community.  

    Dr. John Armitage, CEO for OBI said of the Open Arms program, “Blood donors are naturally giving people who are often willing to forego a t-shirt or other recognition item when they have an easy opportunity to super-size their giving on behalf of patients.  Most have no idea that the vast majority of people around the world do not have safe blood that is reliably available.  Once these heroes learn that each year 100,000s of women in childbirth and kids under 5 years old die because they can’t get transfusions they jump right in to help through our Open Arms program.  Every year we get 30,000+ individual contributions representing about 15 - 20% participation.”

    To learn more about the Open Arms program and GBF, email info@globalbloodfund.org.


  • Thu, July 13, 2017 5:37 PM | Steve Bolton (Administrator)

    Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center recently embarked on a unique partnership with the Houston Zoo that is dedicated to helping treat a deadly virus in elephants.


    In order to help the Houston Zoo combat a deadly form of herpes that can be contracted by Asian elephants, The Blood Center has donated a centrifuge specifically for use by the zoo. The centrifuge will allow zoo doctors to draw blood from non-infected elephants and spin it down to collect plasma used in transfusion treatments. Houston Zoo officials will be trained on the equipment and will have 24-hour access to the centrifuge in case an emergency transfusion is needed.


    The Blood Center and the Houston Zoo held a ribbon-cutting for the centrifuge, in celebration of their new partnership, on May 10 at The Blood Center’s headquarters.


    According to a New York Times article, researchers say the disease, elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus, has killed one in five Asian elephant calves born in North American zoos since 2000. It accounts for more than half of all deaths of juvenile elephants in North America, and researchers, working with available tissue samples, estimate that it has killed some 24 elephants since 1983.


    Asian elephants are an endangered species, and The Blood Center is proud to have the opportunity to help the Houston Zoo preserve them however possible. 


    Meanwhile, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s black rhino Faru might be a shoe-in for father of the year, and his calf hasn’t even been born yet.  Hoxworth Blood Center, University of Cincinnati has been processing blood collected from the 12-year-old rhino for the past nine weeks to have on hand just in case the calf, due in July, has to be hand raised.


    Video of blood draw and processing:  YouTube Version | Hightail version


    “We're banking plasma from Faru as a safety in case first-time-mom Seyia is not able to care for her baby,” said Christina Gorsuch, Cincinnati Zoo Curator of Mammals. “The hope is that the calf will nurse and be raised by her mom, but some inexperienced moms aren't sure what to do with their offspring and humans have to step in to provide nourishment and warmth.  If that happens this time, we'll be able to give the calf the best start possible, with help from her dad.”


    Historically, large volume collections like the Zoo is doing with the black rhino would only be possible with an anesthetized animal. “Thanks to our talented and patient operant conditioning team, Faru remains awake and voluntarily stands for blood draws.  Sometimes he cooperates for fifteen whole minutes.  He seems to like all the attention and treats that he gets during the procedure,” said Gorsuch. 


    Plasma, which contains immunoglobulins that help boost the immune system, from a parent is ideal, but as long as it's from the same species it can be used. The Zoo has been collaborating with Hoxworth Blood Center, University of Cincinnati to bank plasma since 1998 when it was expecting its first elephant calf.  Since plasma can be frozen and kept indefinitely, those samples still exist and could be used in the future if needed.


    "Hoxworth is pleased to work on a collaborative project with the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden", said Dr. Jose Cancelas, Hoxworth Deputy Director.  "Just as there is no substitute for blood in humans, there is no substitute for blood in animals; therefore we are pleased that we can use our expertise in helping to serve the animal kingdom."


    Banked plasma from two cheetahs, collected in 2002 and 2016, was used last year when the Zoo had to hand raise prematurely-born cheetah cubs. “The cubs had many health challenges, including a compromised immune system.  Giving them plasma infusions might have made the difference between life and death,” said Gorsuch.


    The Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), the body that manages populations in Zoos, determined that Faru and Seyia were a good genetic match and recommended that they breed.  Faru came to Cincinnati from Atlanta in the summer of 2015 and was introduced to Seyia.


    Black rhinos, native to Eastern and Central Africa, have two large horns made of keratin that they use for defense, intimidation, and feeding. An adult can weigh anywhere between 1,760 and 3,080 pounds, and newborns (calves) weigh between 73 – 121 pounds. They breed year round and have a 15-month gestation period. The species is Critically Endangered due to poaching and habitat loss.  Fewer than 5,000 black rhinos remain in the world, and approximately 115 are managed by the SSP in North American Zoos.


  • Wed, February 08, 2017 1:34 PM | Steve Bolton (Administrator)

    After the June 12, 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub it became clear people throughout Orlando, and around the nation, wanted to help in any way they could. Thousands volunteered to give blood. Local restaurants offered free food and water to those waiting long hours in the Florida heat. Yet after the attack that specifically targeted the LGBTQ community, that group was notably absent from those donation lines.

    The New England Journal of Medicine’s January 12, 2017 article on MSM (men who have sex with men) took this issue head on in the article, Rethinking the Ban — The U.S. Blood Supply and Men Who Have Sex with Men:

    “The ban on donation from men who have sex with men was instituted at a time of public health panic and vast uncertainty, but 31 years later, scientific advances in testing and in understanding of disease transmission offer new tools and better ways than a sweeping ban to minimize the risk of transmission-related HIV.”

    Additionally, HBO recently aired a VICE News piece reporting on the FDA's MSM deferral.  VICE News, a short-form documentary-style news program promotes itself on its coverage of “under-reported stories.” It covered the story of Jay Franzone and his year-long abstinence in order to donate blood. Franzone, who is the communications director for the National Gay Blood Drive, advocates for an individual risk assessment policy for potential donors that concentrates on behavior rather than sexual identity.

    The NEJM article seemed to agree, “Though we believe that the current population-based ban on donation by men who have sex with men should be replaced with an individual risk-based assessment, it is also undeniable that the ban’s initial institution early in the AIDS epidemic was critical in the creation of a safer blood supply.”

    In 2015, the FDA revised its policy recommending that blood banks ban donations only from men who have had sex with a man in the previous year, rather than at any time since 1977. The NEJM article said of this, “Still, the 1-year deferral is misaligned with the current science of HIV test characteristics and viral transmission.”

    In response to the VICE News story, AABB, America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross issued the following joint statement regarding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s guidance “Revised Recommendations for Reducing the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission by Blood and Blood Products” which outlines the deferral criteria for men who have had sex with men (MSM):

    “All blood collectors in the U.S. are required to follow the rules and regulations issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, including blood donation eligibility. AABB, America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross support the FDA’s revised MSM blood donation policy of a 12-month deferral. Our top priority is the safety of our volunteer blood donors and the patients in need of lifesaving blood products.

    Based on several years of research, the FDA’s decision to change the MSM blood donation policy from a lifetime deferral to a 12-month deferral is consistent with selection criteria for other activities that are used to safeguard the blood supply from equivalent risks of transfusion-transmissible infections. At present, there are insufficient scientific data available to determine whether it is safe to rely only on individual behavioral risk factors when determining donation eligibility. 

    While testing has greatly improved, it is not 100 percent effective at detecting infectious diseases in donors with very early infection. The FDA selected the 12-month deferral to provide adequate time for the detection of infected individuals. 

    Donors who were previously deferred under the prior MSM policy may be evaluated by the blood collection organization for reinstatement. It is important to understand that the donor reinstatement process involves potentially thousands of donors, and it will take time. We advise previously deferred donors to review information about the reinstatement process at their blood collection organization before presenting to donate: 

    America’s Blood Centers: americasblood.org 

    American Red Cross: redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/lgbtq-donors 

    AABB, America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross continue to work with the FDA to gather additional scientific risk data to assist the FDA in determining whether further changes are warranted in the future.

    Individuals can also visit the FDA website for detailed information about its decision and the scientific data that it relied upon to make it.”

    Excerpts from Rethinking the Ban — The U.S. Blood Supply and Men Who Have Sex with Men, Chana A. Sacks, M.D., et al, nejm.org January 12, 2017

  • Mon, February 06, 2017 5:30 PM | Steve Bolton (Administrator)

    Accessibility and diversity are about accommodating everyone, not just people with disabilities or people who are from minority groups. You want to make volunteering as welcoming to the widest number of people possible.

    Much of what is recommended to create accessibility for people with disabilities turns out to be helpful to everyone. Adding subtitles to your online videos not only makes it possible for people with hearing impairments to understand the material, but also increases their usefulness for people learning English and for people who do not have headphones handy and want to watch the video with the sound turned down so as not to disturb people around them.

    What is a disability, anyway? Large numbers of people wear reading glasses - assistive technology devices - yet many Web sites use tiny font sizes inaccessible to them without their glasses. Some people with physical limitations have far more expertise in various professional and technical areas than able-bodied people. The point is this: Do not divide volunteers into those-with-disabilities and those-without-disabilities.

    A volunteer resources manager does not have to become an expert in disabilities to involve people with disabilities as volunteers. Educating yourself about various disabilities in general, however, can help you learn to better accommodate a variety of volunteers in your program.

    Identifying Disabilities

    Note that many people may never mention that they have a disability and your volunteer application should not ask about disabilities. Not only could this be a violation of laws in your country, but it gives the impression that you match volunteers to assignments based on what they cannot do, rather than on what they can.  

    Give all volunteers opportunities to tell you what accommodations might need to be made for them to be successful in an assignment. If you discover a volunteer has a disability, you do not have to avoid the subject, but neither do you have to mention it. If you are uncertain about the wants or needs of a volunteer, with or without a disability, ask!  

    If a candidate says, "I can do everything but such-and-such part of this assignment," consider working with the candidate to accommodate this preference. Perhaps the assignment can be broken up, with different volunteers taking on different pieces, depending on their interests and skills. Such a request does not necessarily mean the volunteer has a disability, however; he or she may lack the skills to do a particular part of an assignment, or not have the time for that piece. If the assignment cannot be broken up to accommodate a candidate, explain why, but also encourage him or her to apply again for other assignments with your organization. Prospective volunteers should know that no to one request does not mean all assignments will be closed to them.

    Non-apparent Disabilities

    In acknowledging and accommodating different ways people learn and communicate off- and online, you not only create assignments that appeal to a greater variety of people with a range of working styles, you also can accommodate hidden or non-apparent disabilities, such as learning disabilities (the most common form of disability) and emotional and anxiety disorders.

    The more you break assignments down by task, the more accommodating you will be for volunteers who have non-apparent disabilities, particularly learning disabilities, as well as for online volunteers who have only a very limited time available to provide service to your organization. Options such as micro-volunteering that take just a few hours over a few days to complete, may be particularly appealing to people who suffer anxiety disorders as well as people who are available only for a short period.

    Generous deadlines, which may work well for people with learning disorders or emotional disabilities may also be appealing to volunteers with work schedules that change frequently. Not every assignment can have a flexible deadline. If a task must be done by a specific date, state this clearly in the recruitment message so that those volunteers who cannot meet the set deadline can screen themselves out.

    This article was written by Susan J. Ellis, president of Energize, Inc.  More volunteer resources can be found on the Energize Website.


  • Mon, February 06, 2017 2:57 PM | Steve Bolton (Administrator)

    Marie Forrestal, ADRP President-Elect, represented ADRP at the China Society of Blood Transfusion’s conference in Xiamen, China in November.   The trip was sponsored by Terumo BCT China and coordinated by Marketing Manager, Mindy Xu.  Conference attendees came from blood centers in all of the Chinese provinces.  Blood banking in China has made great strides, but there is still work to be done and challenges to overcome.  In the most populous country in the world, the demand for blood outpaces donations.  The aging population and the recently lifted cap of one child per family are a main source of the disparity between the need for blood and available donors.  Each province faces unique cultural and logistical challenges for blood centers as well.   Areas with a large concentration of universities have much higher donation rates than rural areas. Corporate and business communities are not utilized to their potential due to the low penetration rate in these area.   Terumo has been committed to helping with this progress, part of which is to teach donor recruitment skills and retention methodology.

    Ms. Xu said “as a global leader in blood component, therapeutic apheresis and cellular technologies, Terumo BCT believes in the potential of blood to do even more for patients than it does today. This belief inspires our innovation and strengthens our collaboration with customers. In China, we are a trustworthy partner who is working with CSBT (China Society of Blood Transfusion) closely to strive to make even safer, high-quality transfusions available to more patients. We will continue to support the biennial CSBT conference and look forward to more communication and collaboration with all kinds of organization like ADRP. We are strongly convinced that ADRP’s experience will benefit donors and blood centers globally.”

    Ms. Forrestal’s presentation, “Donor Recruitment and Retention - A United States and New York Perspective,” was attended by about 300 CSBT members and sponsors.  It included top-down leadership in the corporate sector to increase and institutionalize donations and marketing techniques using personal stories of blood recipients via their social media channel.  Several physicians in attendance were very interested in United States legislation and data on decreasing the donation age from 18 to 17, which would vastly improve availability of blood. 

    The trip was an incredible experience according to Marie. “The team from Terumo was extremely gracious and the experience of sharing both common and uncommon challenges in blood banking was a humbling experience.   The mix of new and old in China is so striking and the commitment and interest in leveraging modern blood donor recruitment techniques was inspiring.  Many of the things that we take for granted in the United States are still being worked through and with the commitment and leadership for CBST great progress in on the horizon”.

    This is the fifth trip to China by an ADRP representative to share donor recruitment and collections techniques with our international colleagues.  


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ADRP, an International Division of America's Blood Centers, is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.

725 15th Street NW, Suite 700 | Washington, DC | 20005 Tel: (202) 654-2907 | Fax: (202) 393-1282

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