Every time you donate blood you help save a life. Sounds extreme?
Not to the patients whose lives have been saved through the efforts of our donors.
As Tyler Bacon gripped the lectern in Carnesale Commons and scanned the crowd gazing at him expectantly, he struggled to hold back tears.
The 39-year-old father of two from Thousand Oaks was finally meeting some of the more than two dozen people whose blood and platelet donations sustained his life during cancer treatment at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
"Because you showed up and donated, my parents still have a son," Bacon said. "My children have a dad. My wife has a husband."
It took a team of UCLA medical professionals and the generosity of 71 strangers to save 2-year-old Skye Savren-McCormick’s life.
The toddler from Ventura, California, required frequent blood and platelet transfusions, often on a daily basis, while undergoing three grueling bone-marrow transplants, surgery to remove her swollen spleen and seven rounds of chemotherapy for leukemia and lymphoma. She received 77 units of blood and platelets during a 10-month stay at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital.
Jorge Sincuir, a frequent donor at the UCLA Blood & Platelet Center, who found himself in need of multiple blood transfusions following a near-fatal car accident.
As UCLA undergraduates, brothers Jorge and Andrew Sincuir donated blood and platelets often. In fact, after Andrew learned that a patient responded well to his platelets, he began donating every two weeks, racking up 67 donations over four years.
When his concerned parents asked him to stop, Andrew pointed out that a specific patient relied on his platelets. His father replied that this person could get them from someone else. “If everyone felt that way, no one would donate,” Andrew told his father. “You’d feel differently if it was your son in the hospital.”
Sadly, Andrew and Jorge's dad learned that lesson the hard way. In a twist of fate, Jorge, Andrew's big brother, suffered a horrific car accident last April and nearly bled to death. Two weeks later, his father drove to UCLA from his Lancaster home to donate blood for the first time.
At an emotional event organized by the UCLA Blood and Platelet Center on Tuesday, the Sincuir family met three of the 27 people who had donated 50 units of blood products to save Jorge’s life.
“I never thought I’d need blood,” admitted Jorge, now 26, who graduated from UCLA with a degree in neuroscience in 2011. “Donating was something I did casually on my way to class.”
Standing in front of a phalanx of TV news crews and an audience of 60 invited donors, he added, “Thank you for being my heroes. I’m very grateful to be here.”
Jorge was driving in a heavy rainstorm when his car hydroplaned across Sunset Boulevard into oncoming traffic. An SUV crashed into the driver side of his vehicle, leaving him bleeding heavily from a shattered pelvis, left hip and left arm. Paramedics extracted Jorge from his totaled car and sped him to the emergency room at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
On January 30, 2015 Brandon received the rare opportunity to meet with 40 of the people who helped saved his life through blood donations. Brandon nearly died in a motorcycle accident on April 27th and in efforts to save him received over 200 units of blood products. During the event, Brandon was able to share his story with the donors that helped save his life and personally thank them by saying "...a part of you is inside of me and that's why I'm standing here today." Read the full story »
Due to confidentiality laws, most blood donors never know who receives their blood. Similarly, patients never learn the identities of those who donated their time and blood to save their lives. But a rare reunion organized by the UCLA Blood and Platelet Center changed that. A young mother who nearly died from massive bleeding after giving birth to her premature son was able to meet seven blood and platelet donors who sustained her life with their generous donations.
Jennifer C. expressed her gratitude for the 24 units of donated blood, plasma and platelets that preserved her life — and allowed her sons to have their mother. Jennifer suffered uterine hemorrhaging after a high-risk cesarean section at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in April 2013. Only 5-feet tall, she lost five liters of blood — nearly her entire supply — and was hospitalized at UCLA for two weeks, with two days in intensive care.
Twenty-one year old college student Jennifer Golden from Las Vegas, Nevada received 24 units of blood products during her double lung and liver transplant surgery. Jennifer was diagnosed at 5 months old with cystic fibrosis, which affected her lungs and deteriorated her liver. At the time Jennifer received the transplant, her lung capacity was at 12% and she was constantly coughing and having to catch her breath. The 13 hour surgery performed at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center in 2011 was a success. During an interview, Jennifer was asked what she planned to do in the future and she answered "...I never really got a chance to think about what I wanted to do. It was always day by day. Now I can think about a future."
"Because of a rare form of anemia that my 3 year old son has, he needs blood transfusions every two to three weeks in order to survive.
So I urge you... make that call, make the time and donate blood. It doesn't cost a thing and it's worth more than all the money in the world - It's the gift of life and you can give it."
– Marisol Quintero
"You don't know how important donating blood is until you're sick." That's what Alyssa Gomez tells people and she knows it's true. In the fall of 2004, Alyssa was diagnosed with leukemia and her treatment requires that she receive both whole blood and platelets. Thanks to everyone who donated at the UCLA blood drive for Alyssa at Canterbury Elementary School and, thanks to many UCLA Blood & Platelet Center donors, Alyssa is getting the treatment she needs.
"We're proud to be a part of Alyssa's team, helping provide community support so that Alyssa, with her amazing attitude and big smile, will be able to do all the things a 9th grader wants to do: dance, act, model and enjoy the company of her good friends and loving family. You became part of Alyssa's Team, a team that included doctors, nurses, family and friends and now you!"
"When the third of my three consecutive bone marrow transplants worked, I didn't know who was happier, me or the nearly 80 people who came into the UCLA Blood & Platelet Center and donated blood and platelets for me. Almost daily, for the entire three months that I was a patient at UCLA my friends, my family, and/or my fellow officers from the Beverly Hills Police Department came into the donor center to donate. Without fail, their experiences were fantastic.
Their time constraints were accommodated and any scheduling issues were handled. Even today, 4 years later, many of them still donate; and they do because they believe it's just the right thing to do. When people talk about donating as giving The Gift of Life they mean it. The more than 184 units of blood, platelets, and plasma I received helped save mine."
– Gary Livitski
Lauren Larsen became a multi-gallon blood recipient during the near-fatal birth of her only child. Several of her actual blood donors talk about what it was like to meet Lauren-and her family-in person four years after helping to save her life. This narrative underscores the direct connection between blood donors and the people whose lives they impact. This blood donation advocacy video was produced by In The Telling with educational funding from Johnson & Johnson.