“We show how much we appreciate them coming in to donate and tell them they’re a hero, because they are.”
Isis Kailimai and Lana Haynes have been drawing blood for just a few short months for the American Red Cross Michigan Region. Already they are finding that being a phlebotomist is a rewarding and fulfilling experience.
Isis, a resident of Harrison Township, has worked as a phlebotomist for seven months. Lana, a resident of Warren, joined the Red Cross in May. During a break at a recent blood drive they worked, they talked about how they’re contributing to the mission of the Red Cross.
“I like challenging work and thought this would be the perfect opportunity,” Isis said. “Every time someone comes in (to a blood drive), they could save a life. It doesn’t matter how small the drive is, as long as they come in, they’re making a huge impact in somebody’s life.”
In July, she donated blood for the first time and was notified by the Red Cross that her donation was used to help someone at Harper Hospital in Detroit. “I felt good about myself donating. It was pretty cool,” she said.
Isis is following in the footsteps of her mother who was a phlebotomist for five years for a local plasma center. She learned of the position through a friend’s mother who’s a Red Cross volunteer. “I always wanted to do this,” she said, adding that medical classes she took in high school prepped her for this opportunity.
Lana worked in what she described as “people-related jobs” before joining the Red Cross. But being a phlebotomist was unique and unlike her previous jobs. She learned about the opportunity after visiting a blood drive to donate, only to find out she couldn’t donate because she didn’t meet one of the eligibility requirements. “You can help in other ways,” Red Cross staff told her at the time and directed her to hiring opportunities online.
“I really like helping people,” she said. “Every time you walk in, every time you leave, you’re changing people’s lives. Talking to the people who are here and helping them donate. Making sure they’re having a really good time donating, so they’ll come back and donate again, giving more blood, more people chances to live.”
Lana and Isis said they both enjoy working at different blood drive locations and meeting new donors at each stop.
“I was talking to one of the donors a while ago and he was telling me about his wife who needs a blood transfusion every couple of weeks, and that’s why he donates,” Lana said. “Knowing that I’m also part of that really makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.”
At a Red Cross blood drive, a phlebotomist is a caregiver for the donor. They review the donor’s medical history to ensure they are eligible to donate. Then they perform the blood collection process at the donor bedside, which takes about 10 to 15 minutes. The entire donation process takes about one hour. Afterward, donors receive a simple yet heartfelt message of gratitude from their phlebotomist.
“We show how much we appreciate them coming in to donate,” Isis said, “and tell them they’re a hero, because they are.”
To find out more about opportunities with the Red Cross Michigan Region visit our website at RedCross.org/local/Michigan or call 1-800-RED CROSS.