By Eddie Zamora, Kern County & Eastern Sierra Chapter Executive Director
The smallest patients need the most specialized care
Kim Cantrell has been donating for years at Edwards Airforce base in Kern County with the American Red Cross.
After donating blood at a previous blood drive at Edwards, she received a notification and a t-shirt in the mail. The t-shirt is dark blue and reads, “American Red Cross – Heroes for Babies.” From the notification, it stated that she has an unique blood type that is labeled as CMV-negative (Cytomegalovirus).
Special blood for special patients
CMV is a flu-like virus that most adults are exposed to at some point in their lives. As with other viruses, once someone has had CMV, their body retains the antibodies. This virus is generally harmless to adults but can be fatal to babies. The CMV virus is present in up to 85 percent of adults by age 40 – making CMV negative status a big deal. Blood collected from CMV-negative donors is sent to hospitals throughout the country every day for babies who need transfusions. There are only a small number of donors that are able to meet this very specific medical need.
After learning about her status, Cantrell felt even more inspired to give. “I know that my blood is being used to help babies that could be in the NICU. I always believed in donating blood, but this is another compelling reason why I need to give.”
Every two seconds in the United States blood is needed to respond to patient emergencies, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease. To donate blood, simply download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information.