Making the Most of the Downtime

Lisa Morgan, staff contributor, American Red Cross North Texas Region

This year’s global pandemic and all of the downtime away from the hustle and bustle of normal routines changed lives. Isanya Andega, a full-time pre-med student at the University of Texas at Austin, discovered his summer plans were going to be quite different this year.

Isanya moved back home to the DFW area and decided now would be a great opportunity to donate his time by becoming a volunteer. He knew he wanted his volunteer work to impact others and, as a bonus, hoped to learn more about his future in the medical field. He signed up to become a blood ambassador with the Red Cross.

“If I didn’t help during the pandemic then what did that say about my desire to become a doctor,” said Isanya.

Isanya taking time out from his blood ambassador duties to be a blood donor.
Photo: Krystal Smith/American Red Cross NTX

This can-do and will-do spirit displayed by youth and blood ambassadors helps promote an environment where blood donors feel comfortable donating blood. It’s a collaborative effort; phlebotomists, blood ambassadors, and donors all work together to deliver a life-saving product to those that need it.

“My role as a blood ambassador allowed me to move about all over the metroplex and venture into new areas,” said Isanya. “I was 100% glad to have done this. There are lots of nuances beyond helping people as a blood ambassador, it improves the [patient] experience,” said Isanya

Isanya sanitizing blood donor screening area
Photo: Krystal Smith/American Red Cross NTX

Thanks to the support of blood ambassadors, Biomed staff can dedicate their time to the donors giving blood and those undergoing the screening process. Ambassadors assisting with the check-in process expedite and improve the experience for blood donors.

“The bedside manner of the [nurses] is amazing, they make the donors feel comfortable and are so friendly with the donors who come from all walks of life,” shared Isanya. “I hope to replicate that when I have the opportunity to practice medicine.”

Isanya screening Casey & Melinda Donahew at blood drive in Fort Worth
Photo: Krystal Smith/American Red Cross NTX

There is way for just about anyone to give either their time, blood, or money to the Red Cross and help further the life-changing and life-saving mission.

If you’re interested in becoming a blood ambassador or participating in other volunteer opportunities, please visit

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