Flip Flops and Blood Drops Blood Drive Aug. 3

3rd annual blood drive in honor of twin sisters born prematurely

Lana (left) and Gabby Troha
Lana (left) and Gabby Troha

The American Red Cross is joining family and friends to host the Flip Flops and Blood Drops Blood Drive in honor of Lana and Ellie Troha, Monday, Aug. 3 from noon to 6 p.m. at the VFW Building community room at 318 4th Ave. in Rochelle. 

Appointments are strongly encouraged to abide with social distancing guidelines. All presenting donors will receive a Red Cross window cling and a $10 Visa gift card (via email), courtesy of Suburban Propane, while supplies last.

In April 2014, Gabby and Derek Troha went on a Florida vacation anticipating wearing flip flops, enjoying sunshine and smiles as they waited for the birth of their twin girls in August. However, while there, Gabby was rushed into emergency surgery at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies. The girls, Lana and Ellie, were born later that day at 23 weeks 5 days and placed in the NICU.

On April 28, Ellie’s health took a turn for the worse and she received a blood transfusion in an effort to help save her life. Unfortunately, it was not enough and Ellie passed away from a bacterial infection. A week later, Lana caught the same bacterial infection in addition to having a meconium blockage in her intestines and a grade three brain bleed. Within her first four months of life, Lana miraculously survived all complications and received eight units of blood.  

Looking at Lana now, it’s hard to imagine she once weighed 1 pound 6 ounces and was 11 inches long at birth. Today the 6-year old is healthy, happy and continues to grow, thanks in part to generous blood donors and lifesaving blood donations.  

“Hosting the Flip Flops and Blood Drops blood drive is a wonderful way to remember Ellie, honor Lana and help patients in need,” Gabby Troha, mother of the twins, said. “Last year’s blood drive was a huge success and I want to again reach out to the community for their support and collect even more donations to help save more lives. Our family feels forever blessed by the turnout and support to not only our girls who both needed blood, but those who need it now, and to those who rely on the blood that’s on the shelves at the very moment.” 

For the last eight years Gabby has been a team lead for the collections staff for the Red Cross Heart of America Blood Services Region. 

“Never did I expect that when I started eight years ago, that my own daughters would need the gift of blood,” Troha said. “The Red Cross is not just a job to me, it’s much more personal than that. Every day I go to work I am reminded why I’m there and who I’m helping. Every donor has a story and it’s equally important for them to donate as it is for me to be there. Without each other there wouldn’t be a supply of blood to help save lives.”

2018 was the first year the blood drive was held in the twin’s honor and to date 90 life saving donations have been collected.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to protect the health of all those in attendance.

To donate blood, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information.

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