Santa Clarita Valley community members rallied Wednesday for a blood drive held in remembrance of Wolf Creek Brewery co-owner Rob McFerren, who lost his battle with cancer in December.
Due in part to the pandemic, the American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage, with only an approximately two-day blood supply currently available nationwide, according to Lori Waid, a registered nurse team supervisor.
“We like to have a four- to five-day supply, so the supply right now is very low,” Waid said. “For certain blood types, the next seven days are forecasted to be in critical short supply.”
One donation can potentially save up to three lives, one for each of the three components in blood — platelets, plasma and red blood cells — according to the Red Cross.
“I always tell my donors, ‘Thank you for sharing your blood today. You don’t know what this means to the person receiving it and their families. They can’t be here, but I’m thanking you for them because it’s huge,’” Waid said.
With most of the Red Cross’ blood drives typically held at schools, which are currently shuttered, events like this held in honor or remembrance of someone are more important now than ever.
“It’s really important for the community to feel that they can do that and give back,” Waid added. “You want to show your love and respect for this person, so it’s amazing that the community comes out for this, and that’s what it’s all about — being able to give back to others so that they can carry on.”
Of the donors was Dan Nisenbaun, who met McFerren while working at Pulchella Winery.
“It’s a small alcohol community out here, so we all know each other,” he said. “I needed to give blood for a while anyways, and this killed two birds with one stone.”
While some of those who came to donate knew McFerren, others were simply Wolf Creek patrons who wanted to show their support, like Valencia resident Alec Pettersen, who said he remembers always seeing McFerren at the brewery.
“I’m part of the (brewery’s) Mug Club, so I get emails and unfortunately I heard that he … passed away, and I couldn’t believe it,” he said, adding that it was through those emails that he heard of the drive. “Every time I can donate, I donate.”
For McFerren’s wife Laina, who knows of the need for blood donations right now, the drive was the perfect way to honor her husband.
“I’m comforted and happy that his passing was able to help in some way,” she said. “We’re really grateful for everyone who came out and decided to donate today.”
The blood drive was put together by the brewery’s landlord, Intertex Property Advisors, who wanted to do something to honor McFerren, according to Laina.
“They thought that this would be a good way, and what they didn’t know is that the very first nonprofit that we got involved with out here in Santa Clarita was the American Red Cross probably 20 years ago when they had a foundation board out here, and so it is something that would have meant a whole lot to Rob to know that he was honored in that way,” Laina added. “I feel that as well, and I just am extraordinarily humbled and grateful that we have been able to do some good with the tragedy.”