Pleasanton Weekly

Column - October 21, 2011

Be a hero, donate blood

by Jeb Bing

Jeff Meyer's business is blood, and he wants some of yours and mine. Meyers is the chief executive officer for the American Red Cross Northern California blood services region, which includes the blood donor station at 5556-B Springdale Ave., next to the JC Penny furniture store. Meyer's concern is that where October is usually a good month for blood donations, the center's supply is coming up short. With donations traditionally tapering off as Thanksgiving and the Christmas holiday periods approach, he's worried and asks that all of us who are eligible make an appointment to give blood.

Many donors were squeamish when they first went to contribute, but almost all of them return, Meyer says, which shows it's not a painful process at all. In fact, drawing blood is what his experienced staff does five to six days a week. They're gentle and quick in their probes, and they also hand out very tasty cookies when they're done.

The Pleasanton clinic has a list of regular donors to call when supplies grow critically short. They give blood on average about two-to-three times a year and some have donated 150-200 times already since first starting. Healthy individuals who are 17 or older (16 with a parent's permission slip) can donate blood and the age at the other end has no limit. One recent donor at a Florida Red Cross blood collection station is 94. Which prompted Meyer to emphasize that it's increasingly likely with all of us living longer that we'll need a blood transfusion someday, if we haven't already. If there are no donors, there'll be no blood when we need it. Human blood only comes from humans; it can't be manufactured or even saved beyond a 42-day shelf life.

Meyer works with schools, churches, businesses and civic and nonprofit organizations to hold blood drives in the field. A recent interfaith drive here sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought in 1,600 units of blood. The clinic has a mobile blood collection vehicle that often parks in shopping centers and also a truck filled with supplies that are used for day- or weekend-long blood collections. But it's the walk-in donor at the fixed collection station near Stoneridge Shopping Center who still makes the difference if Pleasanton can meet its quota each month.

Meyer seems especially skilled at achieving that target. Holding a bachelor's and a master's degree from Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., he earned an MBA at the UCLA School of Management and then spent two years with the Peace Corps in the West Indies. He then became a business consultant on a Red Cross building project in Pomona, and the rest is history. He and his wife Marisol moved to Pleasanton four months ago with their two children: Amelia, 5, a kindergartener at Walnut Grove Elementary, and Nolan, 3. When Jeff Meyer is not managing his staff of 200 from the regional blood service offices in Oakland or San Jose, he's promoting the need for more donors.

Many he's talked to at Pleasanton meetings acknowledge that donating blood just hasn't been one of their priorities. When he talks about 4 million others who are donors and that the Red Cross last year distributed 9 million blood products to some 3,000 hospitals and other facilities, he often gets their attention. He also notes that the real heroes in supplying the blood that was so urgently needed after 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina were those who had donated the week before when their blood was on the shelf at local Red Cross centers and immediately available. That's why he considers those of us who contribute blood today as tomorrow's heroes. There may be no crisis demanding that blood urgently, but it'll be there when it's needed. That's what heroes are all about, Meyer says.


Posted by Robyn, a resident of another community
on Oct 27, 2011 at 10:08 am

Great article about the Red Cross and it's CEO.

Posted by Sara O'Brien, a resident of another community
on Oct 27, 2011 at 10:18 am

I'm with the Red Cross and want to thank Jeb Bing for his column about the need for blood donors. Learn more at or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Oct 27, 2011 at 3:54 pm

I've heard that the Red Cross doesn't accept everybody's blood? Is it true? just asking...

Posted by Steve, a resident of Parkside
on Oct 27, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Cholo, if you've had hep A or are an active drug user, that might explain why you were turned away.

Posted by Zelda, a resident of Danville
on Oct 27, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Cholo, if you have any infection, like AIDS you cannot give blood either. Maybe the rules are different at the BA...just sayin

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Oct 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm

mes petites...i have no infections...not even a mosquito bite on my nose...thank you very much...

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 28, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Cholo, you are not French nor do you speak French - your simple grammar was incorrect. Also, you must be physically able to sustain the loss of blood. You may be thanked but not allowed to donate if you are considered to be underweight or have had the flu or even a cold within the past month. If a simple test shows you are even slightly anemic, you will be turned away. Blood donation has to be safe for everyone, the receiver and the donor. They have to be strict for the good of the community and to avoid lawsuits.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Oct 29, 2011 at 5:52 pm

if folks are so worried re: who donates blood, i recommend that you eat cake...tee hee hee, tee hee hee...

Posted by Tim, a resident of Downtown
on Oct 30, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I'd love to donate my blood but they don't want it. I'm not a drug user, don't have hep A nor any infections...however I am a gay man. Even though I've been with only my husband for the past 10 years, they still don't allow my blood to be donated for fear of HIV/Aids. This of course doesn't make any sense given that they test all of the donated blood anyway. In this case, a discriminatory policy against me ends up hurting others; especially since I have a rare blood type. Ah well. I still encourage those who can give to do so.

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