Blood Donating: The Way Zulma Shows Her Sister She Cares

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Meet Zulma Michaca, a fourth year public policy major here at UC-Riverside. She plans to work with non-profit organizations in the future, and has already got a head start on her career plan, as she is an intern with the American Red Cross. As an intern, she is an advocate for blood donating in the American Red Cross biomedical services blood banking. But wait, there’s more! She’s not only an intern, she is also an employee, and has been for a year and a half now. So what inspired Zulma to become involved with the America Red Cross? Her sister had to undergo not one, but two liver transplants after unknown failures.

What does she do as an intern?

Her title is Donor Resources Development Intern. As an intern, she is in search to find places to host Blood Drives. Here at UC-Riverside, she host blood drives with organizations on campus by the Rivera Arches and Olmstead Hall. She helps recruit donors by approaching different groups on campus, and providing informational talks at meetings on why blood donations are important.

Having to wait hours, and in her case months, for her sister’s transplant surgeries, it was a very
overwhelming time for her family. How did she cope with the time of uncertainty?

Zulma described the moment of her sister’s sickness as horrific. Zulma and her sister are close in age (year and a half apart). Zulma was confused because her sister was healthy and only seventeen, and abruptly was in need of emergency care. She fell into a coma within a week of entering the hospital, where she was incapable of keeping her blood pressure up and had to be hooked onto a machine to stay alive. Zulma says she had to learn to be patient, and that is what she did. Her sister received her first liver transplant within 24 hours on August 14, 2005. However, she had to wait six months for her second transplant on February 14, 2009 when her liver gave out again. The sicker her sister got, the faster she moved up on the list of transplant surgery. All the struggles of uncertainty and days in the hospital also inspired Zulma and her sister to do presentations together to educate people about blood transfusions and their story.

Zulma doesn’t want to go into the medical field, and wants to continue working with non-profit
organizations. Why?

Zulma says her sister’s sickness is bittersweet. It was a struggle that no family should have to go through, but she enjoys educating people about blood transfusions and wants to help people going through the same struggle. She wants to let people know why blood donation is so important (Zulma’s sister’s first transplant consisted of 50 units of blood, which is equal to the amount of 50 people donating blood!). She explained to me how her sister need a unit of blood a day just to stay alive for the six month waiting period. Zulma was happy when her sister received a blood transfusion because it brought her back to life, for she looked dreary and felt sick before they gave her the blood. And it’s also important to keep in mind that blood can only last 46 days on the shelf!

Is Zulma a blood donator herself?

She is! She donates blood every six months, and is also a platelet donor, which she does once a month. Platelet donations can be done by a person every two weeks. Zulma says she’s building up to that, and there are brave people who donate every two weeks!

Does Zulma think there will ever be an answer to her sister’s liver failure?

She is unsure, and at this point doesn’t think so. But she does stay positive, giving a helping hand to those who need it and are going through the same struggle her and her family went through. And she is glad to say that her sister is a fulltime student at RCC studying psychology!

Interested in hosting a blood drive?

Zulma is here to help! She would love for you to contact her and will be glad to set up a date! She is also open for informational talks at meetings!

Contact Info
Zulma Michaca
Donor Resources Development Intern
(909) 859-7627
zulma.muchacaruiz@redcross.org

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