Gift of Life

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.

18 thoughts on “Gift of Life

  1. Thank you. My daughter had to have several blood transfusions at six months old. The people that came out of the woodwork to do directed blood donations for her was astounding, humbling, necessary, and deeply touching. So, thank you. You never know who you’ve helped.

  2. Thank you for reminding people how important it is to donate. My son has infusions every six months that are made from donated blood. He has had 2 transfusions in the past 3 years. Whenever anyone asks “what can I do to help” I always say the same thing….. Donate Blood.

  3. I don’t donate as often as I should, but we had a blood drive at work today, so I gave and I still have my bandaid on. Our company is pretty good. We have about 200 people at our central offices and 45 of them gave blood today.

    1. 45 out of 200 is awesome!! We have 400 in our office and have a hard time getting 40!

      Just a reminder, you can donate blood every 56 days. It takes about an hour of your time (health check, paper work, snacks etc), but the actual donation only takes 5-7 minutes.

  4. Unfortunately, I can’t donate blood for the same reason as you – our stop in Haiti. For this reason I will not get off the boat next year when we go to Haiti again. I was a regular at the Stanford Blood Bank up to that point, going in every other month. As soon as the year is up, I will be doing that again.

    1. I’m pretty sure that other Sea Monkeys discovered that it doesn’t matter whether you get off the boat in Haiti or not. Mosquitos can still get to you on the ship, so stoping at the island counts.

  5. I donated on Monday, 8/4 – consider it an early birthday present. My dad died 18 months ago but while they were trying to save him, they went through tons of blood products. I can still hear the door to the stairs opening and closing as the nurses and techs ran up and down them with blood while we waited in the ICU waiting room trying to sleep… I made a promise to myself to donate regularly after that – had a year deferred due to a trip to Mexico but I am back at it!

  6. I would love to give blood, but I lived in Scotland during the “Mad Cow years” and am not able to donate at all. I hope someone goes an extra few times for me!

  7. Did they ever ask if you would donate plasma? I recall from days in a blood bank that AB donors were desirable for those donations.

  8. I’m due to donate again in three weeks – the Red Cross around here sets up my next appointment each time I’m in so I can donate as frequently as possible. Now I just need to convince my boyfriend that the needles aren’t that bad 😐 he’s a big strapping lad, he doesn’t have an excuse.

  9. I always have donated blood from when I started College. After about 20+ donations I had to stop because I became a type 1 diabetic.
    I personally think it should be mandatory for people to donate blood, unless there is a reason not to.

  10. I am on the marrow donor registry! I’m nursing twins and need all my blood right now to maintain my health. But soon, cause I’m A+ !

  11. It’s a shame that while I WANT to donate bone marrow, the registry won’t take me because I’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I know they have rules to protect donor and recipient, but I would gladly take any additional pain to help someone else!
    I know locally we have an event this coming week where each person who donates blood gets a free movie pass so maybe check local areas commenters and you might be able to get a movie out of it as well as helping someone else.

  12. I’m already on the marrow registry, and I just did a half marathon for LLS to raise money in honor of my friend Leif, who lost his battle in November of last year.

    But now that training is done (for now), I need to get off my butt and donate some red cells. Used to be a regular donor and have fallen off the wagon. Thanks for the reminder to get back on. 🙂

  13. I have been on the marrow registry for over ten years and just got an email last month that I may be a match to save someone’s life. I am a little afraid of the procedure but feel so honored to possibly be able to help someone live longer! It is a no brainer to me that I will do it. Waiting to hear if I will be selected. So wonderful that you are asking others to step up too!

  14. What a lovely post. I give people bone marrow transplants everyday, and I know firsthand how much people need the life saving gift of blood and platelets. They keep people alive in a time when they are most vulnerable. Thanks for bringing awareness! I am glad your friend is doing so well. Tell her to keep up the good fight!

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