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Regular blood donor knows the need is great

December 05, 2023 | Paul Taylor
UCI Health respiratory care specialist Trista Kallis, a regular blood donor, on a recent visit to the UCI Health Blood Donor Center — Orange.
UCI Health respiratory care services manager Trista Kallis began donating blood in memory of her father, who was also a regular blood donor.

Trista Kallis knows the value of donating blood.

The UCI Health respiratory care services manager isn’t shy about sharing her feelings about the life-changing procedure. She doesn’t just talk the talk. Having donated more than 10 times, she walks it too.

“I began giving blood in memory of my father, who has passed but was a regular blood donor himself,” she said.

“It's a way for me to honor his memory and continue his legacy of giving back to others. Every time I step into the blood donor center, I feel like I'm contributing to a larger goal, a bigger picture of saving lives.”

Dire need for blood donations

Kallis’s words ring especially poignant these days as both the blood and donor supply dwindle, though the need for it has not. Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood.

As a Level I trauma center, UCI Medical Center is home to Orange County’s busiest emergency department.

Typically, a medical patient needing a transfusion requires about one or two units of blood.

“Major surgical cases may require up to four units a day. But a trauma patient with catastrophic injuries may need 40 to 50 units of blood,” says Dr. Minh-Ha Tran, medical director of UCI Health transfusion and blood donor services, and a UCI School of Medicine professor of pathology.

Babies in the neonatal intensive care unit and patients battling cancer also rely on blood donations.

Yet only 5% of people who are eligible to give blood donate. That means that UCI Health is continuously seeking blood donations at its centers in Orange and Irvine, circulating its traveling blood mobile throughout Orange County, and conducting blood drives.

A worthy pursuit

According to Kallis, blood donation is a worthy pursuit on various fronts.

“Giving blood is fast, it’s easy and it saves lives,” she said. “When I engage in the act of blood donation, I am filled with a profound sense of appreciation and gratitude.”

When she contemplates the impact of her donation on her community and to the sense of well-being of those around her, Kallis’s sense of appreciation deepens. It is a privilege, she says, to be physically able to provide blood.

“This realization reinforces the significance of my role in the larger fabric of community health, igniting a sense of thankfulness that motivates me to continue supporting this crucial cause.

Commitment to healthcare excellence

Kallis says the work done at the blood donor center in Orange, is a testament to the organization’s commitment to healthcare excellence. But it is the team members who make the experience an exceptional one.

“During each donation, the blood donor staff go above and beyond to ensure my comfort. They explain the process thoroughly, offer me refreshments, respect my preferences, and even provide guidance, always encouraging me to return when I can,” she says.

“The blood donor team's dedication to both the donors and the recipients is truly commendable.”

The actual process of donating whole blood takes less than 15 minutes. When you include the initial screening, a mini-physical and eating a snack afterwards, the entire process takes less than an hour. Donating platelets can take an hour or so longer.

Every 56 days, when she becomes eligible to donate again, she plans to be back at the donor center giving the gift of life.

“I am proud to be a part of this mission and will continue to donate blood with UCI blood donor center, knowing that each drop makes a significant difference in someone's life.”

Make an appointment

Appointments are available at the UCI Health Blood Donor Center — Orange and the UCI Health Blood Donor Center — Irvine. Make your appointment to donate blood today.

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