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Every drop counts

Aera employees and contractors provide crucial blood donations in Kern, Ventura counties

Aera employees and contractors are back in the donor chair rolling up their sleeves to help save lives in Kern and Ventura counties.

So far in 2022, they’ve already donated 56 units of whole blood to the Houchin Community Blood Bank (HCCB) which will be used to save an estimated 170 lives in Kern County. Aera employees have been supporting HCCB since 2005 and donate an estimated 400 units of whole blood every year. About 30 Aera employees and contractors from Aera’s Ventura field also donated blood this summer to support shortages at Vitalant Blood Donation Center.

Aera Logistics Engineer Steve Whitestone has donated more than eight gallons of blood to the Houchin Community Blood Bank

Their efforts are part of the first series of blood drives held at Aera since they were paused for two years due to the pandemic.

“There’s been a nationwide blood shortage for at least a year,” said Houchin Account Manager Yessica Diaz-Conti. “About 80 percent of the blood donations given to HCBB are collected at blood drives, set up in community organizations, companies, high schools, and colleges. The remaining 20 percent is collected at our fixed sites. Not having blood drives from 2020 and 2021 really affected our blood inventory.”

Diaz-Conti said the pandemic has had a lasting impact on the number of donors. While 38 percent of people are eligible to donate, only three percent do. Only about one percent has returned to donate, after the pandemic.

“Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood, and unfortunately blood cannot be manufactured. It can only come from generous donors. We don’t want to be in a position where our hospitals must triage and be forced to make difficult decisions about who can receive blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available. Hospitals in nearby counties are already having to doing this,” Diaz-Conti said.

“There is a constant need for blood and blood solids – there are a lot of elements of our blood that can be broken down and used in many ways,” said Sean Carlsen, an Aera occupational health nurse. “Hospitals may need blood to save lives for individuals involved in major accidents or perhaps undergoing surgery – Aera’s support as a company hosting these blood drives provides critical resources to our communities.”

Aera Engineering Technician Kyle Stuck donated blood at Aera’s Belridge facility

Aera Engineering Technician Kyle Stuck took part in an Aera blood drive for the second time. He gives blood because it takes just a little bit of time and benefits many people. His wife received blood several years ago when she was involved in a life-threatening incident.

“Knowing someone who has been on the receiving end brings it full circle,” Stuck said.

Aera employees also stepped into donate emergency blood, plasma and platelets through Aera’s “calls to donate” when the pandemic and wildfires cancelled local blood drives in 2020 and 2021. Nearly 70 employees and contractors stepped up to donate in response.

“Our employees are incredibly generous – and that includes stepping in to donate blood when our communities need it the most,” said Jay Brickhouse, a health services technical associate at Aera. “We’ve got a lot of regulars who come back to donate several times a year. These blood drives are in line with Aera’s commitment to its communities and the company has been incredibly supportive of giving employees the convenience of donating blood while they are at work.”

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