For the past ten years, I have treated my birthday as a reminder to donate blood. A few years ago, I added my name to the National Bone Marrow Registry as well. I do all of my blood donations at City of Hope, a cancer research hospital in Duarte, California. Their lifesaving treatment and stem cell transplant is the reason a very good friend of mine is still here today. My friend had also made goals for herself to get through treatment; to make it to Christmas, then to see her son graduate from high school, and then to be here for another birthday of her own. She has experienced them all and then some.
I wasn’t the same blood type as my friend so I couldn’t give her my blood, but she really needed platelets. I tried several times to donate platelets but my count is so high they were literally clogging the needle. At the time, I felt helpless in helping her, so I did a marathon with Wil for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, raising $34,000 that went toward cancer research, and assisted in covering cancer related medical expenses for people who couldn’t afford it. In addition to doing that marathon, I donated my blood to City of Hope for any patient who could use it. I’m AB Positive, which they don’t get too often, so they’re always happy for me to donate and they always send me a reminder around my birthday to come back to donate again.
My birthday is coming up, so I called them to see if I could donate. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to because of some stops on the JoCoCruiseCrazy we went on at the beginning of the year. I had wanted to donate blood before leaving, but I had spent weeks trying to beat a bad case of bronchitis and no one wants blood from a sick person, so it never happened. I confirmed today that because of our stop in Haiti, the CDC doesn’t allow blood donation for one full year from the day you arrive home.
I never want gifts for my birthday. I am so grateful for the life I have and I don’t need stuff. What I would rather do is give someone else a gift of helping save their life, but I can’t this year. So if you’re able to donate blood or platelets or even just sign up to be a bone marrow donor, that would be the best gift me and the person you will save could ever ask for.