150 Years of the Geneva Convention

August 22, 2014

Posted on by Kristiana Almeida

One hundred and fifty years ago, the original Geneva Convention—more commonly known as the rules of war—was created. These rules govern and limit actions that take place during armed conflict, such as the protection of civilians and the wounded. And while many people have heard of these rules in one way or another, many do not know that the creation of the Red Cross movement is at the very heart of these rules.

After Henry Dunant, a Swiss businessman and social activist witnessed the atrocities of war during the Battle of Solferino in 1859, he recorded his encounter in the book A Memory of Solferino. Four years later in 1863, he formed the International Committee of the Red Cross as a direct response to that experience as an organization that could provide humanitarian aid to those impacted by the tragedy of war. The following year, the Geneva Convention was written, based on Dunant’s ideas and principles.

Today, as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the original Geneva Convention, we call on all parties to all conflicts to preserve what it means to be human by complying with the rules of war. Even war has limits. Learn more at http://www.redcross.org/rulesofwar .

Watch a simple video created by the International Committee of the Red Cross. 

One of Your Neighbors Has Been Getting Transfusions All His Life

August 20, 2014

Burns Blackwell is a Red Cross Board Member for the Greensboro Chapter. Until a few weeks ago, none of us knew he had a Red Cross story like few others. He now volunteers to say thanks for all the blood he has received. Thanks for sharing your story, Burns…

Burns Blackwell2

Burns Blackwell

Burns' brother donating blood

Burns’ brother donating blood

Written by Burns Blackwell
Why give blood at the Red Cross? The answer is easy, people need it and it saves lives. In fact, there have been several times when it saved my own life.

For my entire life up until late 2012, I fought a chronic immune deficiency which caused many illnesses, some known and some unknown (which was scary). I had a defect in my white blood cells, causing them not to fight infections like a normal, healthy person’s white blood cells. The defect was in my neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) and it made me very susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections.

When I was very sick my hemoglobin, the amount of oxygen in your blood, would be very low causing the need for a transfusion. Having low hemoglobin is not fun since you feel fatigued and don’t have enough energy to fight the infection. Therefore my lifelong doctor, Dr. Buckley from Duke, would order a transfusion and things would get better giving me more energy to and good cells to fight the infections.

Several days after leaving school as a kid, I would head to Cone Hospital getting both a blood transfusion and another special type of transfusion called a granulocyte transfusion. Both types of transfusions were extremely necessary to help me stay healthy and live a normal life. Sometimes, I would even come home from camp to get transfusions because I could only go for so long without the need. Heading back to camp was always fun and it was like nothing happened.

Then in 2012, I was blessed with the opportunity to have a stem cell transplant to cure my illness and have working neutrophils! My brother John was a perfect match and we would proceed with the transplant. John, never had the genetic illness and never waived once to step in and do what he needed to do.

My wife, Laura, and I moved to Durham to tackle this journey for a better life. The first transplant was not successful, but we kept our heads up. We came back to Greensboro regrouped and went back to attempt transplant number two.

During the second transplant, things were more difficult than the first. (Which I did not think could be possible). My blood counts could not rebound after all of the chemo basically deleted my immune system. I started needing two or three blood transfusions a week due to my spleen. It was trapping all the cells, acting as a filter. Taking my spleen out was the solution and it is a common procedure, however; not when you don’t have an immune system and your spleen is the size of a football. Bleeding was a major concern and the risk for a life threatening infection was even greater than I already had.

That’s when blood transfusions saved the day! The supply from the Red Cross was there for days, then weeks, then what felt like months. I needed that time for my bone marrow to get healthy enough for surgery to be an option. Those transfusions would make me feel so much better! The blood bank got to know my name and was always on full supply from the hard working volunteers at the Red Cross. Having that blood bank was something that we cherish more than you know!

I became healthy enough for my spleen to be removed and it was an instant increase in all my blood counts. It was a miracle; a new immune system was beginning to build and create a whole new life. Thank goodness for all of the times that the blood was there when I needed it.
Now my wife and I are back in Greensboro and are blessed again, this time with an amazing 7 month old son. We frequently look back on all of those times, and are always so glad for all the resources and technology that was available.

This past birthday, my wife gave me a book of the blog we kept during our journey through Durham. http://blackwellbmt.blogspot.com/ Hopefully someday my son can read this and have the desire to go give blood at the Red Cross. There are always people like me needing this gift! Thanks for all the volunteers that made it happen!

Red Cross Helps Prisoners of War

August 14, 2014

It never ceases to amaze me all the things the Red Cross does. Disaster and Blood Services are pretty well known but our best kept secret is Restoring Family Links. Most people don’t know we help refugees living in the US track down loved ones who are still in other countries. Here’s a beautiful story from last November

First meeting since 2008. Photo by News 2

First meeting since 2008. Photo by News 2

Most recently our tracking skills have been called into action to help Prisoners of War in Saudi Arabia during the First Gulf War. Thousands of Iraqis fled across the border to refugee camps. Many of them were Iraqi soldiers who defected from Saddam Hussein’s army. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visited and registered former soldiers and Prisoners of War in the Saudi camps. Since then, many have come to America through the US refugee resettlement program.
Here’s where the American Red Cross comes in. The government of Iraq established a program to provide reparations to Iraqi nationals who fled the country. Thousands of Iraqi refugees now living in the US are seeking documentation of their time in Saudi camps. They can then return to Iraq to claim their reparations. The American Red Cross can help get that information.
If you or someone you know needs documentation, call your local Red Cross. They will be able to submit the forms to get the process started. Currently, a man from Rockingham County is waiting for his documents to be returned.
You never know what all the Red Cross is up to- but you can be pretty sure, it’s more than you think!

Platelet Donation # 600!

August 12, 2014

Ed Rothrock3

Ed Rothrock

Ed Rothrock2

When Ed Rothrock was a child, he lost a cousin to leukemia. He vowed that if he could ever do anything to help, he would. He began donating platelets in 1991 and hasn’t stopped since. This week, he gave his 600th donation. He went in, kicked back and relaxed. When you donate platelets every other week, you get pretty comfortable with the staff. Ed looks forward to seeing the them regularly- and they look forward to seeing him. My favorite part was having the donors (yes, all regulars) offer me snacks from “their” canteen. Typically volunteers staff the canteen at a normal blood drive or blood center. These guys are there so often, they see it as going into their own kitchen- which is really cool to see!

This is probably your first question. What is a platelet?

It’s something in your blood that keeps you from bleeding to death.

Yep, pretty important!

Most of us have platelets that do their job without us even thinking about it. But many cancer patients and organ and bone marrow recipients don’t have that luxury. I think most of us would agree that there’s nothing good about cancer. Well, this isn’t going to make you like it any more. When chemo and radiation kill cancer cells, they also kill platelets- a clotting agent. On top of everything else people with cancer have to deal with, they also have the possibility of hemorrhaging.

The good news is that we can help them by donating platelets. Like blood, we can’t make platelets in a lab. If your friend or family member has recieved platelets, someone has taken time out of their day to visit a Red Cross blood center to donate. If you have been wondering what you can do for your friend struggling with cancer, here’s something that will help even more than a casserole or card. Platelets can literally help someone else battling cancer. That
casserole may be tasty but platelets will have an even longer lasting effect.

If you would like to donate platelets, just call 1-800-REDCROSS for an appointment. (Since the process is a bit more complicated, not every blood drive is equipped to take platelet donations. An appointment is a good way to make sure you get to the right location.)

Farewell, Little Hummingbird…

July 31, 2014






By Leigh Brock
Typically this blog is about people who have given or recieved blood. Today it’s about the person who brings in the donors. Lu Johnson has been with the Red Cross for 14 years and everyone who has met her remembers her. She’s retiring this week and she will be terribly missed.

Lu Johnson has more spunk than anyone I know. Her boss says she reminds him of a hummingbird. It’s true! (If you know her, you get it!) In fact, I tried to take pictures at her retirement party yesterday and hardly came up with a single good one. She was in motion in every shot. She also talks faster than any of us can think. Her voice and e-mails are legendary. She can tell you what she’s done today… about the lovely new friend she just met… how her cousin is doing… compliment your shoes… and still throw in a few YEHI’s!!!! before you know what hit you. A volunteer once said, “I don’t always know what she is saying- but I always know it’s good”. That explains Lady Lu to a tee…

The best thing about Lady Lu is the way she makes you feel when you’re around her. She lets you know you’re loved. She’s a life-long friend- whether you’ve known her for a few hours or for years- that’s according to one of her four college roommates who attended the party. You must be doing something right if your high school and college friends attend your retirement party.

Lu has made the Greensboro Blood Center a success. Those at her party ranged from old friends to donors to co-workers from across NC to the people who hired her. That’s how much she will be missed.

Lady Lu, we wish you well! Just so you know, you have people lined up, ready to take you back as a volunteer. Will you choose disaster, fundraising, communications or stick with blood? Either way, we want to see you back!

Burn Patient in 1959… Blood Donor Ever Since

July 24, 2014

Larry Tesh

The year was 1959 and Larry Tesh was 16 years old. He was going about his day as a gas station attendant.

As he was filling up a car, some gas shot out and soaked his clothes. Gas evaporates pretty quickly so it wasn’t long before he was dry again. He went about the rest of his day. There was no need to change clothes. He smelled a little like gas, but he did work at a gas station. That wasn’t uncommon.

Later in the day, he went to burn some trash. That’s when his day took a turn for the worse. He lit the trash. Then a spark got out and lit him. He rolled in the gravel to put out the fire- but not before he was pretty badly burned. He was rushed to the hospital, where he would spend the next two months.

Larry received two gallons of blood and says, “If somebody hadn’t given blood, I wouldn’t be here. We can go to the moon but we cannot make blood.”

When he was back on his feet, he decided to replace those two gallons that saved his life. Donating every 56 days, that takes more than two and a half years. After he repaid what he considered “his debt”, he kept giving… and he hasn’t stopped since. He has donated hundreds of times over the past five decades. He says he wants to save enough lives to fill a stadium.

We have an urgent blood need right now. Summers tend to be a little slower because the kids are out of school and people are off their normal schedules. Many high school and college campuses hold drives that we depend on to meet our goals through the school year. When school is out, there are no school drives. People also tend to be on vacation and may not make it for their regularly scheduled church or company blood drive. That all adds up… as the constant need continues to subtract from our blood supply.

Will you donate blood this week? You never know when someone in your family will need it. You can give by calling 1-800-REDCROSS or click on http://www.redcrossblood.org/

You may not have another opportunity to save a life today.

Making Monday Mornings Better

July 21, 2014

Who really likes Mondays?

Here at the Red Cross, out of all seven days, Monday probably wouldn’t be our top pick. Yet there’s one thing we look forward to each week- Henry the volunteer.

Henry Tripp

Henry Tripp name tag

He’s here every Monday morning for his volunteer shift as receptionist… usually wearing a jacket and tie- and always wearing a smile. He asks how our weekend was and tells us about his. It’s a nice way to start what would otherwise be just another Monday.

There’s a lot more to Henry though. He helped get a Disaster Action Team started for Pleasant Garden back in 1997. He was on the team for a while- getting up at 2:00am with the best of them to make sure that when his neighbors faced a disaster, they got the help they needed. When there was a larger scale disaster, he drove the ERV and helped give out food to those who’s houses were affected and to the volunteers who were helping with the clean-up.

That takes a lot out of a person so he moved on to be a blood volunteer- serving in the canteen and as a greeter. He remembers 911. He wasn’t in NYC but in GSO. He said the line to donate blood was out the door and around the corner. Local restaurants showed up with food for them to give out to keep people from leaving. People waited for hours. Sadly, most of that blood wasn’t able to be used by the intended recipients.

Henry spent some time helping to maintain the chapter vehicles too- but his favorite volunteer position so far is his current job as receptionist. He says he gets to learn about everything that’s going on with everyone- from disaster to blood to communications. He says he likes to be in the know.

We like his smiling face… every Monday morning.


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