by Wayne Lewis and H. Chung So
Blood — it is a particularly precious commodity for cancer patients in treatment and recovery. As City of Hope helps more and more people battle back from the disease, the organization must find new ways to meet those patients’ need for donated blood.
A new City of Hope bloodmobile is helping.
|City of Hope President and Chief Executive Officer Michael A. Friedman, M.D., was among the first to donate blood in the new bloodmobile. (Photo by Walter Urie)|
The 40-foot mobile blood donation facility made its debut on March 28, thanks to a $300,000 contribution from longtime City of Hope supporter Jerry Fine of Beverly Hills, Calif.
For him, the gift stemmed from deep, personal motivation: While in treatment at City of Hope, his late wife, Susan Fine, became dependent on transfusions of donated blood for both red cells and platelets.
Jerry and Susan Fine met in 1982 and soon fell in love, marrying within a year. Jerry Fine found success in business, while Susan Fine earned a master’s degree and set up practice as a licensed clinical social worker. Together they traveled the world and raised a son, Joshua.
The family was thrown into tumult in 2004 when doctors diagnosed Susan Fine with chronic lymphoblastic leukemia. The disease grew aggressive, and she sought help from City of Hope.
Chemotherapy beginning in 2007 pushed her disease into remission, but she would later face a rare type of recurrence. Caregivers found it difficult to locate an appropriate source of donated blood for her complicated case. The predicament motivated the Fines to organize a blood drive for City of Hope in December 2008, and it gave them a window into the challenges many patients face.
“Our experiences made us finely attuned to what patients go through when they rely on regular transfusions,” Jerry Fine said. “Supporting the bloodmobile seemed like the perfect way to address the problem.”
|Photo of City of Hope’s new bloodmobile.|
Gay Almquist, director of the Donor Apheresis Center, said the Fines’ contribution was invaluable to their collection efforts.
“The bloodmobile would not have been up and running this year if not for the generosity of the Fines,” Almquist said. “They have gone above and beyond in their support of the blood donor center.”
The bloodmobile, which has five beds for collection and two areas for screening, will make possible more offsite drives, according to Almquist.
“In the past, a business or organization interested in holding a drive would need at least a thousand square feet for us to set up beds, equipment and staff,” Almquist said. “Since the bloodmobile is self-contained, we can simply drive to the site and handle all the donations in our bus.”
Almquist estimated that the bloodmobile would boost off-site blood donations by 20 percent over the next two years.
“And the more that we are able to collect ourselves, the less we will need to buy from elsewhere,” Almquist said.
In 2009, Susan Fine lost her battle with cancer, but her generous spirit and the kindness of City of Hope’s medical team inspired Jerry Fine to turn the loss into a way to help other patients.
“We had always planned on providing for City of Hope through our estate, but as her disease advanced, she encouraged me to give even sooner,” said Fine. “That was Susan’s nature — always seeking to help others.”
Fast facts about City of Hope’s bloodmobile
City of Hope’s new bloodmobile is designed to expand off-campus blood drives and make them more efficient and comfortable for donors. Features of the bloodmobile include:
- A 40-foot bumper-to-bumper length
- Two expandable side sections that provide ample room for donors and staff members
- Five collection beds and two interview rooms
- A typical crew of one driver/technician and five blood collection staff members
- Capacity for 40 to 50 units of whole blood per blood drive
- A 70-mile range