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Santa Barbara - South County

NewsChannel partners with Vitalant ahead of Monday’s MLK National Day of Service

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - NewChannel celebrates a three-year partnership with Vitalant ahead of Monday's MLK National Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Vitalant plasma and blood donors at Santa Barbara site (Beth Farnsworth/KEYT)

This particular local event is celebrated as a Day of Giving and this year, there is an urgent need for O negative blood and convalescent plasma.

"My parents were married for 64 years and had five children," said Doreen Salmonsen.

Doreen Salmonsen donates plasma regularly in memory of her father, George Hughes (Beth Farnsworth/KEYT)

Her love for her parents, Elaine and George Hughes, inspired a renewed commitment to donate blood, something she and her husband have done for years.

"We've been giving blood since 2014," said Salmonsen.

The Ventura woman said she contracted COVID-19 last year during the last days of her father's life while visiting him in Arizona and helping her mother. He suffered from dementia.

Salmonsen said she was sick with coronavirus for two weeks before eventually testing positive for antibodies.

"I started donating my plasma in November and then decided in December I would donate every week in memory of my father."

The Principal Scientist said she fulfilled that commitment and will go back now to donating once a month.

Salmonsen counts among roughly 900 convalescent plasma donations made to Vitalant since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Of those, just under 700 units shipped out from the Central Coast to help COVID patients. 

Amy Dresden of Goleta donated plasma after contracting COVID-19 (Beth Farnsworth/KEYT)

NewsChannel also met Amy Dresden, a Goleta resident, while she was donating at the Vitalant site on upper State St. Like Salmonsen, Dresden also contracted coronavirus. She said donating plasma is important to her. 

"Getting COVID is like, a bad thing, but then you can turn that into something positive by helping other people who really need it," said Dresden.

Vitalant said right now, one out of four hospitalized COVID patients in our area are receiving convalescent plasma.

Joe Van Herweg overcame his fear of donating blood (Beth Farnsworth/KEYT)

"Now it's even more important than ever to have that blood supply available to those who need it," said Joe Van Herweg, a Santa Barbara resident and blood donor. "For a long time I didn't donate and partially because I was a little scared of the process, just kinda intimidating. But after my first time donating it wasn't that big of a deal. It's a good thing to do and it's not hard to do."

"The community in Ventura and Santa Barbara just give so much of themselves to Vitalant and I just think it's a great way to give," said Salmonsen. "I just really feel blessed to be able to honor my father this way and also to give back."

To learn more or to schedule an appointment to donate blood or plasma, contact

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3. To learn more about Beth, click here


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