ROCHELLE – The American Red Cross is asking community members to come out to help save lives and honor twins Lana and Ellie Troha at their second annual Flip Flops and Blood Drops Blood Drive.
The event will take place on Monday, July 22, from 12 to 6 p.m. at the Hickory Grove Banquet and Convention Center, located at 1127 North 7th Street in Rochelle.
Five years ago, in April of 2014 Gabby and Derek Troha went on a “babymoon” vacation to Florida in hopes of relaxing while waiting for their twins to be born in August. While in Florida Gabby unexpectedly went into labor early and was flown to Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Children in Orlando. There she had an emergency C-section and gave birth to her twins.
“For some reason, we never really had an answer why I went into labor early and ended up delivering down in Orlando at 23 weeks,” said Gabby.
After being born prematurely, the girls, Ellie and Lana, were placed in the NICU to monitor their health. Ellie received one unit of blood as her health was beginning to decline and, unfortunately, she passed away the next day on April 28 from a bacterial infection.
One week later Lana was suffering from the same bacterial infection along with other complications, but she was able to come home on Aug. 1 with oxygen, a monitor and an ostomy bag. A few days after returning home Lana was readmitted to the NICU at Rockford Memorial Hospital and spent another month in the hospital until she was healthy enough to be sent home with no oxygen or monitor needed.
Now five years later, Gabby and Derek thought it was time to create an event to honor Ellie, give back to their community and save lives in the future.
“Lana is doing wonderful now that we are out of the woods with her health and everything. We decided now that we’re good and we don’t have to worry about her, that it is time to give back to the community, especially Rochelle,” said Gabby Troha. “We are both from Rochelle born and raised, and they rallied around us so much while we were in Florida and helped us out tremendously.”
Gabby has worked as a team leader for the American Red Cross for seven and a half years. As a team leader, she would draw blood from donors and run blood drives every day, and she would also try and donate whenever she could. But everything she and her husband went through with their daughters has completely changed her outlook on both her job and donating blood.
“Every day with my job I talk to donors and I generally find one or two donors who have their own personal stories that mean a lot. So, I always knew it was special, but now it obviously hits even more close to home with us,” she explained.
When Lana was born she weighed only one pound six ounces and measured 11 inches long. Now she is five years old, weighs nearly 40 pounds and has a thriving personality. Her parents say that she lights up any room the second she walks in.
Other than honoring the twins, the main goal of this event is to keep a stable blood supply on hospital shelves. The American Red Cross is asking for as many donors as possible, as they are currently experiencing an emergency need for blood donations.
“Just last week we had 450 fewer blood drives held, which led to 17,000 less units of blood collected. Right now, there is less than a three-day supply of blood available,” explained Janet Jarvis, account manager for the American Red Cross.
To put into perspective one unit of blood can save approximately three lives.
This shortage of blood is due to multiple reasons such as not being able to hold as many blood drives during the summer months, more people traveling which leads to more accidents where blood is used very fast, and finding new donors can be challenging. The American Red Cross officials suggest one easy way to get new donors is to ask people you already know.
“Only 3 percent of the population donates blood, and the number one reason is simply because they have not been asked,” added Jarvis.
Another main reason people are reluctant to donate is fear, but whether it is talking donors through the process or holding their hands, the workers at the Red Cross are there to help make it a more comfortable experience for the donor.
The American Red Cross is currently in need of O+ and O- blood types the most, but is appreciative of any type of blood donation. The goal of the event last year was set at 25 units of blood and they achieved 49 units, nearly double their goal. This year the goal is set at 36 and the Troha’s have confidence the Rochelle will come together and beat the higher goal.
“We feel the love that people do come out for it. They helped us before and they are helping us now,” said Gabby. “Whether its sporting events, the tornado recovery, the new playground or anything at all, everyone comes together.”
Anyone who comes to the event and donates blood will receive a free American Red Cross fleece blanket while supplies last. To schedule a blood donation, use the Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or email Janet Jarvis at [email protected]