Next Chapters: How Northern California blood recipients are doing years after donors helped save their lives
NOW LESS THAN A WEEK AWAY. IT’S YOUR CHANCE TO HELP PEOPLE WHO NEED LIFE SAVING DONATIONS AT THE HOSPIL.TA GULSTAN: FOR A SACRAMENTO FAMILY, GIVING BLOOD IS AN IMPORTANT TRADITION. AND THEY WANT TO INSPIRE OTHSER TO DO THE SAME. KCRA THREES BRANDI CUMMINGS SHOWS US, THEY HAVE DONATED THOUSANDS OF TIM.ES BRANDI: YOU ARE LOOKING AT THE NERVE CENTER OF VITALANT’S PROCESSING LAB, A PLACE WHERE BLOOD PRODUCTS AREES TTED, PREPARED AND STORED READY TO BE SENT OUT TO HOSPITALS THROUGHOUT NORTHERN CALIFORA.NI >> CAN I HAVE EVERYONE’S ATTENTION? BRANDI: THIS THE HEARTBEAT. VITALANT’S BLOOD DONATION CENTER, THIS ONE IS IN MIDTOWN SACRAMENTO. HERE DONORS ROLL UP THREI SLEEVES AND GIVE THE BLOOD COMPONENTS PEOPLE NEED TO SURVE.IV PLATELETS TO BATTLE LEUKEMIA, RED CELLS TO RECOVERRO FM SURGERY, OR PLASMA TO CONTROL BLEENGDI TH IISS THE HEART, DONORS LIKE GARY MYERS. >> I DID MY FIRST BLOOD DONATION IN COLLEGE. THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN 15.98 BRANDI: TODAY, GARY IS A LEGEND AT VITALANT. HE’S DONATED 2,800 TIMES. >> PEOPLE ASKED ME WHY I DONATE AND I GO BECAUSE I CAN. AND IT’S REALLY NOT A LOT MORE THAN THAT. THE BLOOD SUPPLY IS NEED.ED AND IT’S SOMETHING I CADON BRANDI: A HUMBLE ANSWER, BUT THE TRUTH IS GARY’S DONATED REA CORD 350 GALLONS OF BLOOD PRODUCTS SAVING PERHAPS, THOUSANDS OF LIVES. >> MY FAMILY THINKS IT’VES RY COOL FOR ME, IT’S MORE ABOUT HOW DO I MOTIVATE OTHER PEOE?PL BRANDI: ONE OF THE PEOPLE HE’S MOTIVATED, HIS SON LUCAS. >> ON HIS THE DAY OF HIS 16TH BIRTHDAY DID HIS FIRST PLASMA DONATION. HE WAS A SENIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL. THE DAY BEFORE HE LEFTOR F COLLEGE HE FINISHED HIS TH10 GALLON AND WAS THE YOUNGEST 10 GALLON DONOR IN THE HIOROFST BLOODSOURCE, WHICH HAS NOW VITALANT. BRANDI: AFTER DECADEOFS DONATIONS, GARY IS SAYING GOODBYE TO SACRAMENTO VITALANT, RELOTICANG TO NEBRASKA. >> THESE WERE ALL MY FRIENDS. AND, AND MANY OF THEM I WAS HERE WHEN THEY WERE TRAING.IN IT’S JUST COOL. THEY BECOME THEY BECOME FAMI.LY BRANDI: WHILE HIS TIME AT VITALANT COMES TO END GARY PLEDGES TO KEEP DONATING, AS LONG AS HE CAN, KNOWING EACH DONATIONAS H THE POTENTIAL TO SAVE A LIFE. >> HOW CAN I LOOK THE MOTHERN I THE EYE? AND KNOW I COULD HAVE DONATED AND I JUST DIDN’’ ANBRDI: BRANDI CUMMINGS, KCRA 3 WSNE GULSTAN: THAT’S AMAZING. IF YOU WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE LIKE GARY AND DONATE IN THIS YEAR’S BLOOD DRIVE FOR LIFE, WE’RE URGING PEOPLE TO MAKEN A APPOINTMENT AHEAD OF TIME. THAT’S SO WE CAN STICK TO COVID PROTOCOLS AND PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCI.NG ANDREA: TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT, HOLD YOUR CELL PHONE CAMERA UP TO THIS Q.R. CE.OD IT WILL TAKE YOU TO A LINK WITH ALL OF THE INFORMATI.ON THE BLOOD DRIVE HAPPENS JANUARY 5 THROUGH THE 8TH, AT TWO LOCATIONS IN SACRAMENTO AND ROCK
Next Chapters: How Northern California blood recipients are doing years after donors helped save their lives
SACRAMENTO, Calif. —
For more than two decades, KCRA 3 has teamed up with Vitalant to hold the Blood Drive for Life, which this year is taking place on Jan. 5-8 across two locations in Rocklin and Sacramento.
Blood donations are used to help cancer patients, newborns, sickle cell patients and organ transplant recipients. Donated blood is also used for open-heart surgeries and other situations.
While most people are able to donate blood, only 3% do.
Over the years, KCRA 3 helped tell the stories of those in need of lifesaving blood transfusions.
For this year’s blood drive, Vitalant checked in with some of the people we’ve featured in past years for an update on the next chapter of their lives.
If you would like to join other community members for this year’s blood drive, click here to sign up.
Tony was diagnosed at just 4 months old with the rare blood disorder hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH, and a bone marrow transplant was the only cure.
It took a year to find his marrow match. His transplant happened in December 2007 in San Francisco.
Tony is now a high school student at age 16 and his mother Kasey said in an update that without generous blood donors her son wouldn’t be here and thriving today.
“My son received over a hundred units of blood from age 7 months to 2 1/2 years old until he received his bone marrow transplant (BMT),” she said. “In such a short amount of time, he needed so much blood to keep him going and to become strong enough to receive his BMT. Watching your son go through so much and feeling helpless, relying on strangers to keep your baby alive, is such a hard thing to go through. Because of their gifts, he is playing varsity volleyball in high school, looking forward to driving, going on trips with his family and hanging out with friends. He is a wonderful young man. So, I thank blood donors daily for their selfless gifts to families like ours and for the people who make that happen.”
Tony’s family first shared their story with KCRA 3 for the blood drive in 2010 and then in 2012 when the Bierwirths met Tony’s marrow donor.
Debbie was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) after her 50th birthday in 2006 and needed a bone marrow transplant.
As an African American, Debbie was told it would be hard to find a match because it’s harder for Black patients to find a match.
She did not find a match and decided to enroll in a clinical trial at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle for an umbilical cord blood transplant where patients receive cord blood rich with blood stem cells that could potentially cure her leukemia. Patients do not need as close of a match as they do with adult blood stem cells.
The treatment worked and has become a standard treatment for thousands of people who don’t have a matched donor.
After her treatment, Debbie returned to work and was able to attend President Barack Obama’s inauguration in Washington, D.C.
She’s now approaching 15 years cancer-free, is retired and is “grateful for life.”
Debbie encourages people to donate blood, platelets, plasma and to join Be The Match marrow registry, especially those with diverse heritage and ethnicities.
“Navigating this journey in my 14th year post-stem cell transplant, life is grand and I continue to receive an abundance of blessings,” she said. “My prayer is that others diagnosed with cancer receive blessings!”
Debbie first shared her story with KCRA 3 for the blood drive in 2008.
Steven was a high school senior when he was diagnosed with leukemia at age 17.
Doctors recommended a bone marrow transplant but without a family match, he faced long odds due to his Hispanic and Chinese heritage.
Steven was able to receive a marrow transplant in September 2009 but close to two years later, his leukemia returned and he needed another transplant.
He got that second marrow transplant in 2012. Steven required hundreds of blood components during both marrow transplants and has been nicknamed “Ironman” for all he’s undergone.
Despite two hip replacements for joints that deteriorated due to cancer treatments and medications for graft vs. host disease, Steven still finds time to give back as a counselor at Camp Okizu, a volunteer with Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and an ambassador for young adult cancer survivors with Stupid Cancer.
In January, Steven’s looking forward to celebrating 10 years since his last transplant.
“I’d like to thank blood donors for all they do to help patients like me,” he said. “I’ve gone through leukemia twice and two bone marrow transplants; blood donors and marrow donors helped me survive. I’m forever grateful and looking forward to a healthier future.”
Steven first shared his story for the blood drive in 2011 and again in 2013 because he needed a second bone marrow transplant.
Hiking in the Sierra above Echo Lake on his way to Flagpole Peak in 2004, Paul Frydendal was aware of his surroundings but confident in his ability to navigate the snowy terrain.
But he suffered an accident by falling into a snow chute, tumbling down 800 feet. By the time he stopped, he had nine broken ribs, a punctured lung, a shattered femur, a broken right arm and tailbone, a broken bone in his neck, severe head lacerations and internal injuries.
He was rescued by helicopter and hospitalized in Reno where he received many blood transfusions.
Despite the ordeal, Paul was back at work in six weeks, though he needed surgery later.
In the pictures above, Paul shows a T-shirt that commemorates the fall he suffered.
“That I had a phone connection after falling so far from so high up on the mountain as a snowstorm came in?” he recalled. “Truly amazing! In 2004, phone technology wasn’t nearly as good as it is now. I have to hand it to AT&T because getting off the mountain to critical care was essential for my survival – and then excellent medical care that included blood transfusions.”
Paul was a blood donor before 2004. He’s now made 110 blood donations, mostly whole blood donations because his Type O-negative blood is especially needed by trauma patients.
“I have been very fortunate with my wife and family, friends, my job and life in general,” he said.
Paul first shared his story with KCRA 3 for the blood drive in 2012.
Natasha Deegan contracted Hepatitis A from food poisoning in 2010 and became one of a few very who progress to the state where a liver transplant is necessary.
“A one-percenter,” she said with a flash of humor.
Natasha was in an induced coma prior to her liver donation and received blood transfusions throughout the experience.
She recently celebrated 10 years post-transplant and thanks blood donors for the important part they played in her medical crisis.
Natasha said she has “cherished every day and lived my life to the fullest.”
“I have traveled extensively with my husband and celebrated my 40th birthday in Singapore and the Maldives. Years may have passed but the gratitude has never decreased,” she said. “Thank you to all the blood donors. I am proof you save lives.”
Natasha first shared her story with KCRA 3 for the blood drive in 2014.
Bobby Karratti looked like a “blueberry baby” at 3 months old, according to his mom, Alex.
His skin was covered with blue pinpricks that indicated a clotting disorder.
He had no platelets and after many months of further tests and misdiagnoses, he was diagnosed with Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS), a rare and life-threatening blood disease.
Bobby needed every blood component – platelets, red cells, plasma – to survive. Since turning 3 months old, he was in a hospital, visiting an infusion center, receiving blood transfusions, or seeing a doctor nearly every day until he received a bone marrow transplant – the only known cure – on Aug. 15, 2013. It was just a few weeks before his second birthday.
Now, Bobby is healthy and celebrating eight years post-transplant. He’s a fifth-grader, loves sports, and keeps his mom and day on their toes with every new adventure. They are so grateful for blood donors who helped their son into his healthy future.
Bobby’s family first shared his story with KCRA 3 for the blood drive in 2018.
Darnay McMillan was born with sickle cell disease (SCD). Her twin brother wasn’t.
She would go on to receive her first blood transfusion at age 6. By 12, Darnay was receiving transfusions each month to help manage her condition.
“We don’t know where we would be without blood donors,” said Darnay’s mom, Maya. “Words can’t express how I feel but blood donors are a blessing to our family.”
When the disease was managed well Darnay didn’t miss school. As she got older, she started learning more about how a bone marrow transplant could help her, though her mom wasn’t enthusiastic about the risks.
“I knew that sickle cell disease could shorten my life,” Darnay said. “Even though the idea of a transplant was scary, the opportunity of a healthier life was enough to convince me to try.”
When she was age 15 she convinced her mom that she was ready to go ahead with the marrow transplant and received it from an unrelated donor in 2015.
It wasn’t easy. Darnay struggled with graft vs. host disease, a condition where new marrow donor cells can attack the host. But that improved over time.
Darnay graduated from high school with her friends and went on to college before the pandemic closed things down.
Now age 20, her health at six years post-transplant is good and she remains grateful to blood donors.
“Blood donors – even though I don’t know them personally – are part of my history,” she said. “With their gifts, I was healthy enough to get a bone marrow transplant that cured me of sickle cell. I was able to graduate high school, go on to college, meet new people and experience adulthood.”
Darnay and her family first shared their story with KCRA 3 for the blood drive in 2013.
Healthy, smart and competitive on the volleyball court, Ashley Vanderpan had already been recruited by Syracuse University and looked forward to her last years of high school.
But in the fall of 2016 when she was a sophomore, a nagging cough developed into severe breathing problems – then hospitalization.
Ashley was put into a medically-induced coma on Dec. 13, 2016, and was not revived until two months later.
Her need for blood products included about 300 blood components, plasma, red blood cells and platelets – about 37 gallons.
“I didn’t even realize you could give blood components like plasma and platelets,” her father Dave said. “Every few days Ashley would receive so much blood that I saw how necessary it was to have blood products on hand.”
Ashley’s top goal was to get back on the volleyball court, first by walking (with a medical port in her chest), then adding distance and volleyball drills.
The single-mindedness resulted in her achieving her goal. She was back on the court in the fall of 2017 and also became homecoming queen.
Ashley attended Syracuse University then transferred to San Diego State where she played volleyball and is now a senior looking forward to pursuing a master’s degree in speech-language pathology.
She recently celebrated her 21st birthday, happy to be healthy and strong.
“I’m living proof of what blood donation can do,” she said. “I was shocked at the number of blood transfusions I needed. Hundreds of people donated for me. It’s hard for me to imagine but I’m so thankful and motivated to be a better person and a better volleyball player. I’m hopeful that a younger generation of new donors who donated for me will continue to keep donating and help others.”
Ashley and her family first shared their story with KCRA 3 for the blood drive in 2018.