Donate Blood and Help a Child

By Malissa Lichtenwalter

Today, 34 children will be diagnosed with cancer. You can help one of our Rush University Medical Center pediatric patients by donating blood or platelets here at the Rush Blood Center.

Help patients like …

  • An adolescent female who received 19 units of blood to support the blood lost during her operation to remove a cancerous bone tumor from her pelvis
  • An elementary school-age boy who arrived in Rush’s emergency department with a fever, bruising and fatigue, who was diagnosed with leukemia and immediately began chemotherapy. During the first month of treatment, he received blood components 18 times.
  • A toddler who received blood and platelets a combined 74 times during the course of her nine-month battle with advanced neuroblastoma. She’s now cancer-free and thriving.

A blood transfusion or platelet transfusion, when necessary, can dramatically affect a child’s quality of life and ability to continue on schedule with life-saving treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

You can help save a child’s life. Please donate today … for all the little reasons, and get your own Little Reasons t-shirt. For more information, please contact me at blood_donor@rush.edu or (312) 942-7824.

Malissa Lichtenwalter is an Apheresis blood donor recruiter with the Rush Blood Center.

Q&A With Rush Blood Center’s Malissa Lichtenwalter

Rush is sponsoring an American Red Cross blood drive on World Blood Donor Day, which is Tuesday, June 15. To mark the occasion, Rush’s Simone Taylor Deaderick sat down with Apheresis Blood Donor Recruiter Malissa Lichtenwalter to find out more about the Rush Blood Center and her work there. Here’s an edited transcript of the interview.

For starters, what do you do and how did you get started?

When I came to the Rush Blood Center as the apheresis donor recruiter, I was to come in and help educate people about the importance of donating platelets and getting people to donate platelets here at Rush. Currently,  I focus primarily on Rush employees and patients who have an anticipated need of platelets transfusion. Our bone marrow patients and some of our oncology patients know that they’re going to need platelets during their course of treatment. So what I do when many of these patients come in, I talk with them and let them know about platelets donation — how our assigned donor program is here for their friends and family who want to support them.  In addition I encourage donors to pay it forward by donating platelets in general.

So how important is donating platelets? I’ve never really heard of donating platelets

A lot of people are very familiar with blood donation, and  know you can donate blood every 56 days or basically three or four times a year, whereas platelets are different. Platelets are your body’s bandages and they only have a shelf life once they are collected of five days. Also, donating platelets is more time-consuming, so you have a longer donation time, which is a challenge for people. We have a wonderful blood supplier from American Red Cross, but it’s very important for us as well to let our employees know and also the public that they can donate platelets at the Rush Blood Center.  All of the blood and platelets that we collect in the Blood Center itself stay here and  will help benefit our patients here at Rush.

What brought you to Rush and how long have you been here?

I’ve been at Rush a little over two years. What brought me to Rush is that Rush has a history of a very vibrant donor program and historically it was very robust, but they had been without any recruitment or educational leadership for many years. I saw an opportunity to help Rush and liked the Rush values and wanted to be a part of resurrecting the donor program.

What’s the significance of World Blood Donor Day?

World Blood Donor Day is another opportunity for us to let people know that there is someone out there who needs blood as well as saying thank you to all of the donors. World Blood Donor Day is, needless to say, international in scope.  This year it is focusing on younger donors and trying to do more outreach and education in that area.

Have you ever had a person come in and change their mind? I know when I donated blood I was terrified, I literally cried the whole time.

People are very nervous about it. Many times it’s somebody who hasn’t donated blood before and they’re scared.  So if they have gone to the effort of coming in, a lot of times it’s a matter of validating their fears and letting them know that it’s okay to be scared in one sense, but overall it really shouldn’t be that scary. And we still give you cookies afterwards.

The blood drive runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday in the Cafeteria South Dining Hall of the Armour Academic Center. To schedule an appointment, please go to redcrossblood.org (sponsor code 3351 or ZIP code 60612) or contact blood_donor@rush.edu.

Donate Blood at Rush, Pay It Forward

Donating bloodBy Malissa Lichtenwalter

Please join us for the American Red Cross blood drive sponsored by Rush University Medical Center on Thursday, Jan. 7, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in room 994 of the Armour Academic Center.

All donors presenting at an American Red Cross blood drive in January are eligible to enter its “Pay It Forward” raffle, with one lucky person winning $1,500 to apply toward rent, mortgage and/or utilities.

To schedule an appointment, please go to www.givebloodgivelife.org and enter ZIP code 60612.

Remember to eat a healthy meal and drink plenty of water prior to donating.
Appointments preferred. Walk-ins welcome. Photo ID needed.

In addition to this blood drive, we encourage employees and visitors to contact the Rush Blood Center Monday through Friday by phone (ext. 2-6680) or e-mail (blood_donor@rush.edu) to schedule a whole blood or platelet donation. Donations at the Rush Blood Center go directly to Rush patients.

Remember, you can provide a lifetime of tomorrows for those who need blood. Please schedule your donation today.

Rush Resources:

Malissa Lichtenwalter is an Apheresis blood donor recruiter with the Rush Blood Center.