Did you or someone in your family receive blood from Huntsman Cancer Institute or University of Utah Hospitals & Clinics?
Share your life-saving blood story here.
Cancer Didn’t Get Me
When the COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning, Allan Dubon was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells. Within two hours of his diagnosis, he was admitted to the Huntsman Cancer Institute and was not discharged for two weeks. Over the next few months, Allan spent more time in the hospital than he did at home.
His treatments included chemotherapy and targeted drugs to kill the aggressive cancer cells. At one point, Allan had to wear a backpack that continually pumped blinatumomab into his bloodstream throughout the day. As his cell counts dropped, he received both blood and platelet transfusions. When his medical team hung the bags of red blood cells or platelets for his transfusions, Allan knew the blood and platelets were coming from ARUP Blood Services.
Before his leukemia diagnosis, Allan had worked for several years at ARUP Blood Services, and he knew the rigorous steps involved in preparing blood bags for patients receiving transfusions. Now on the receiving end of those same products, he was grateful for all the safeguards and meticulous tests that ensured the safety of these blood products. It brought him “instant comfort.”
Eventually, Allan needed a bone marrow transplant, and his brother Josh was a match. Josh’s bone marrow-harvesting procedure included extracting healthy bone marrow from seven punctures in his rear pelvic bone. The bone marrow transplant replaced Allan’s unhealthy blood-forming cells with healthy ones from his brother through an IV tube. These healthy cells found their way into the marrow, the soft tissue inside the bones.
Surrounded by his wife and four children, Allan is on the mend and feeling better. He tells his friends and family, “Cancer didn’t get me.” He is celebrating the small victories on the post-cancer road to recovery. On some days, the simple feat of opening a pickle jar is a victory, but he is beginning to regain his strength and is starting to return to work.
From a steady stream of volunteers, ARUP is able to provide life-saving blood to hospitals and their patients.
After a donation of whole blood, red blood cells are stored for 35 days and can be transfused in patients with matching blood types. Platelets have a much shorter shelf life and can be used for only five days after donation.
There is a constant need for blood and platelet donations to help patients like Allan survive.
I have seen many of my students volunteer to give blood at the high school to help others. So, as a teacher, I want to follow their example. I think it’s important to practice what you preach, and since we emphasize the importance of helping the community, this is one way to do that.— Natalie Nielsen, Teacher, West Jordan High School
A friend of mine donated more than 55 gallons of blood in his lifetime and challenged his friends to help. I am answering his challenge to help others.— Daniel Fry
There is a sickle cell anemia patient for whom my blood type and blood proteins match. After I donate, I receive a call from a staff member at ARUP Blood Services to tell me that my blood was used to help that patient and to thank me for the donation.— Karla
I worked at Huntsman Cancer Institute and had a chance to see firsthand how important blood donations were to the patients. Cancer patients sometimes need blood or platelet donations to heal. I donate to help these patients.— Annika Vaughan
I donate because I want people to have access to the blood they need when they most need it. There is no better feeling than getting a phone call from ARUP Blood Services letting me know that my blood was used to save a life. I am thankful that I can be part of helping during a time of need.— Sadie Garcia
I have five children—three sons and two daughters. Each of my three sons had birth defects, and two required major surgeries. We were able to count on blood donations from strangers to help our sons survive those traumatic surgeries and recoveries. I am grateful for the chance to help other parents whose child is facing a health crisis. I donate blood and want to inspire other parents to donate.— Paige Norton
Giving and Receiving the Gift of Life
Lisa Condie Barlow wanted to give the gift of a family to her brother and his wife, who were unable to have children, and she agreed to carry a child for them. With five children of her own, Barlow knew what to expect during pregnancy, but this pregnancy would turn out to be different, ultimately resulting in multiple transfusions to save her life.
At week 35, medical complications forced Barlow into a 15-hour period of labor. After she delivered a healthy baby girl, Lisa unexpectedly suffered a severe postpartum hemorrhage. The Labor and Delivery Rapid-Response team was alerted when the hemorrhaging was discovered. Lisa had lost massive amounts of blood. She was moved to the operating room and many attempts were made to stop the blood loss.
Multiple units of blood and platelets were required to save Lisa’s life. Despite the chaos, and the fact she was slipping in and out of consciousness, she was aware that if she perished, her five children would be the ones who would suffer the most. She told herself in that moment, “I want to stay and raise my kids.”
After the bleeding stopped and she received blood and platelet transfusions, Lisa spent three days recovering at the University of Utah Hospital.
Several years later, she felt the need to give back. This past July, Lisa called ARUP Blood Services to get their help coordinating a blood drive. She invited her friends, family, and neighbors to donate blood through ARUP, the sole provider to the University of Utah Hospital.
During the blood drive, a total of 20 units of blood were collected and will be used to save lives at the local hospitals that ARUP serves. Lisa is alive today because of generous donors. She knows that there is no substitute for human kindness, or human blood, so she plans to make her blood drive an annual event.
I just made my 100th donation! I love to donate with ARUP Blood Services. I started donating 27 years ago when my daughter started medical school at the University of Utah. I would drive down from Wyoming on the weekends to visit and take her to lunch, and then I'd stick around to donate blood. Even though she doesn’t live in Utah anymore, I still drive from Wyoming every two months to donate.
I saw the need on the news and thought, “Why not?” I’m a spontaneous impulsive teenager!— Alyssa Larsen
After recovering from COVID-19, University of Utah professor Clement Chow donates convalescent plasma to help other patients.
Nearly 30 years ago, my baby daughter was rushed to Vanderbilt Hospital with a life-threatening illness. Over the 33 days of her hospital stay, she needed blood transfusions many times. Someone donated to save my daughter’s life, and now I donate to pay them back. I think about her every time I donate at ARUP Blood Services—someone helped me, and now I have a chance to help another family.— Roger LePrey
I love people! I’m the kind of person who drops everything for people in need, and donating blood every chance I get is my favorite way to help others. It’s simple, it doesn’t cause me any inconvenience, and I have a sure way of knowing that my donation makes a difference.— Kendrah Yardley
My sister’s daughter was born with a genetic heart defect—left heart syndrome—and at 2 weeks old, she had open heart surgery. She’s now 3 and is preparing for her third heart surgery. I know that without blood donations, her life-saving surgeries would not have been possible. I try to donate as often as possible.— Becky Modderman
When University of Utah RN Chase Jensen was asked why he donates blood, his first comment was, “I’ve got extra!” Chase works at the University of Utah Hospital taking care of patients who have had whole-organ transplants, so he sees firsthand the patients who receive blood and platelet donations during critical and life-saving surgeries. He originally started donating because his friend was a dedicated donor, but now Chase sees the value of donating, and ARUP’s donors are saving lives every day.
I was given five units of red blood cells when I was 18 years old due to internal bleeding. Those donations very likely saved my life. Later, when my first son was born into this world with birth trauma and severe complications, he too was given a transfusion right after he was born. There is a chance that neither of us would be here today had it not been for the generosity of blood donors. I donate as often as I can, and I donate out of gratitude.— Russ Benson
As a mother, I have been blessed to have two healthy children. If by giving blood, I can help other mothers with children with special concerns, this is one way I feel I can support them when they may need it the most. I hope my blood can help them.— Sue Brekke
I used to work at ARUP, and as an employee, I kind of felt it was my duty to support my company and donate blood (plus, ARUP gave me time off work to donate), so I would go whenever the mood hit me. Then, 10 years ago, I started working at the Huntsman Cancer Hospital. I was absolutely amazed at how much blood our patients need all the time! Once I saw how important it was, I knew it was critical for me to do my part and donate whenever I could.
I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer back in 2012 and had to undergo surgery to remove the cancer. I tried to donate, but having a cancer diagnosis, unfortunately, made me ineligible until I was 5-years cancer-free. So now I’m back, baby, and with a vengeance! It only takes 30 minutes, just one little poke, they give you all the treats you can eat, and if you take a friend, you can race against each other to see who can collect the fastest!— Lori Griffin
Fighting Leukemia Since 2010
As of April 2012, “Super” Skyler has received 185 blood transfusions!
“There are 185 strangers out there who have helped save his life. Words can’t express how grateful I am for those people who took the time to donate,” said Crystal, Skyler’s mom.
Skyler has been struggling with his health since he was an infant, and he has constantly been in and out of doctors' offices and hospitals. He has struggled with ear infections all his life, and, eventually, doctors put tubes in his ears to try to stop the infections. During the last couple of years, his eardrums have burst multiple times, causing him extreme pain. During this time, Skyler lost his dad, Ben, to a heart tumor just days before his second birthday.
In 2010, Crystal noticed that Skyler was sick. He had a fever on and off for a week and his eyelids began to swell. A few days later, his entire face began to swell, he was extremely nauseous, his stomach began to protrude, and he had unexplainable bruising all over his body. His mom felt something was not right and took him to his doctor. His doctor told them that Skyler’s spleen and liver were very swollen and told her to take him to Primary Children's Medical Center. When they got to the emergency room, it did not take them long to determine that he had leukemia. Now, it was just a matter of waiting to find out what type of leukemia he had. A few days later, doctors were able to determine that Skyler had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). He was taken into surgery later that day to have a central line placed in his heart for his treatments, bone marrow taken from his hip, and chemo injected in his spine to ensure the leukemia did not reach his brain. During the surgery, Skyler started bleeding from his lungs. Doctors were able to control the bleeding, but fluid remained in his lungs, which made it very hard for him to breathe. Skyler began his first round of chemo and was in extreme pain. He could barely walk and even the slightest touch was very painful.
Two years and 180+ transfusions later, Skyler is such a fighter. Although he is having some hard times, he still finds the strength to make his mommy laugh.
“I still am very grateful for all the blessings that we have received throughout this journey, but I always wonder, 'Why does someone so young have to deal with so much? Why has so much been thrown his way at his tender age?' Every day I just think to myself, 'Thank goodness for blood donors.'”
My name is Marshall. Over the past five years, I have had the privilege of donating with ARUP Blood Services. While working full-time and going to school, I found it difficult to find a way to serve in the community. ARUP was very friendly and flexible in scheduling my appointments and giving me the opportunity to give back, even if it was in a small way. I can recall getting phone calls occasionally when they would mention things like, "There is an infant in need of platelets," or, "There is a cancer patient that you are a perfect match for." I remember coming in to donate and asking, "Is there really someone waiting, or are you guys just saying that to get me in here?"
On January 4, 2012, I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a type of cancer that usually develops in young children. It is extremely rare for someone my age. Due to my age, the data on my chances for survival is limited. The doctors encourage me by telling me I'm young and in shape. I share this because now I know that there really is someone waiting—it's me!
I remember your staff telling me how much the patients appreciate the blood and platelets they receive, but now I can tell you firsthand how good it feels. During part of my hospital stay, I spent two miserable days just above the level required for a transfusion. When I was finally able to get one, my headaches left, I wasn't so tired, and I had strength and energy—it was an amazing feeling!
I share this information to hopefully inspire others to donate, or for those who already do, to keep donating while you can! It makes me sad in my heart that I won't be able to continue donating with you guys. I only hope that my story will help inspire others to give "the gift of life."— Marshall
After a miserable weekend of camping, we took Jenna to see her pediatrician first thing on Monday morning. With a high fever, a swollen face, and a rapid heartbeat, we figured that her ear infection had come back with vengeance. We were concerned that it was going to take a very strong antibiotic to help her recover from this infection. I mentioned to the doctor that I thought her abdomen had bloated from the last antibiotic. He told us that shouldn’t have happened and seemed concerned. He convinced us to have some blood work and other tests done that same day.
Before we knew it, we were in the hospital surrounded by doctors and specialists who were telling us our 13-month-old baby had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
She was admitted to the ICU at Primary Children’s Medical Center. As soon as it could be typed and crossed, Jenna was transfused with red blood from a selfless ARUP Blood Services donor who I will never know. Without that blood, she would not be with us today.
This was just the beginning of a very long and challenging journey. Treatment started immediately and should continue for the next two to three years. So far Jenna has received about nine transfusions of blood products.
Something that we never realized until this happened is that when children go through chemotherapy, their bodies cannot rebuild healthy cells fast enough. They depend on donated blood to help them recover. These transfusions give them the strength and ability to continue with their treatments. We cannot thank all of the donors who have helped our Jenna enough. She is now 11 months into her treatment and is doing very well. We have been able to watch her grow and enjoy her life—a priceless gift that we don’t take for granted.
In a couple of weeks, we will be celebrating her second birthday. This would not be possible if people didn’t take the time or care enough to donate blood.
Thank you to all who have and all who will donate.Sincerely,
— Jenna’s Family
My son, Alexander, was born on September 22, 2006. He was born with several congenital heart defects. He had his first open heart surgery when he was 7 days old. He has had several blood transfusions throughout his short life due to the many surgeries he needs. The blood that my little guy receives comes directly from ARUP Blood Services. ARUP Blood Services supplies the blood that the patients at Primary Children’s Medical Center need. Without the many wonderful people that donate their blood, my son and many other children would not be alive today.
Alex has had as many as 20 transfusions to date, and he is only 3 years old. He still has more heart surgeries ahead of him. I really wish that I could hug each and every person who has donated to ARUP—you have given him the gift of life. Without your donations, Alex wouldn’t be here today. Please take a few minutes out of your schedule and donate blood to ARUP Blood Services. It isn’t painful, it doesn’t take long, and you will save lives in the process!— Krista
We knew our baby, Phineas, had a 50% chance of inheriting my husband’s blood disorder, but I was hoping he wouldn’t. Phineas’ grandfather had almost died from it at age 2, and his father, uncle, and aunts had all needed several blood transfusions as infants and needed surgery to remove their spleens at age 5. But when Phineas started getting more and more pale a few weeks after birth, we knew. He had it, and he was very anemic. He had a blood transfusion when he was 8 weeks old. I feared he would need many more transfusions in the following months, but so far, his blood counts are staying just high enough. We are so grateful for that first unit of blood he received. It is a relief to know that, should he need it, there will be blood available thanks to those who generously give.— Becky Hornok
I don’t know if there is anything more devastating than seeing your child in pain. Our little sweet Serenity was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia on May 24, 2008, and she has been in and out of Primary Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) ever since that day.
Our little daughter had a fever, or that is what we thought she had that day. Within 24 hours, we were rushed to PCMC in an ambulance. She had multiple blood draws and received several types of medications and antibiotics until we found out what we feared the most...leukemia. How could our sweet little 3-year-old have such a horrible disease? Serenity received blood and platelets immediately over the next few hours to help increase her numbers. We have been to the hospital dozens upon dozens of times, and Serenity has needed many blood transfusions.
Please know that your donations make a difference. We wouldn’t be with our sweet little daughter without donations from ARUP Blood Services’ donors like you. We have even organized our own blood drives and donated blood to help those in need. Serenity is just one of many little children at PCMC, and the need for blood is tremendous.
Thank you for helping our little baby live. We can’t imagine life without her.— Phil and Adria
In May of 2005, Janessa McMillan was 13 years old and riding her bike back to school. She was let out of school earlier in the day but needed to return in the afternoon. Her house was up on a hillside in Utah County, and she was riding her bike down the hill towards a busy intersection. Janessa, who was not wearing a helmet as she rode back to school, noticed there was a large truck pulling a flatbed trailer filled with lawn mowing equipment at the intersection at the bottom of the hill, and she tried to stop. Janessa’s bike hit the back edge of the trailer, she flew over it, and then she landed on her left arm in the intersection. An ambulance picked her up and took her to a nearby parking lot where a helicopter was waiting to take her to Primary Children’s Medical Center.
At the hospital, Janessa found out that the left part of her face had been scraped off and she had a blood clot in her brain. She also needed nine screws, two plates, 14 stitches in her ear, 55 stitches in her arm, and many more stitches across the top of her head.
Janessa cried the first time that she looked in a mirror after the crash. Her face was red, swollen, and had stitches and bandages all over. Thanks to the good work of the doctors and staff at Primary Children’s Medical Center, Janessa was able to go home after one week in the hospital. She spent the whole summer doing physical therapy to get in shape to be ready to go back to school.
Janessa and her family realize how close she was to dying and want to thank all the blood donors for giving in a time of need. Janessa’s mom, Lisa, said that she never gave a thought about the blood supply before, but she can’t put into words how thankful she was that there was enough blood for Janessa during her time of need.
Today, Janessa is healthy, happy, and living a normal life.
Isabelle Eve Postma was born on May 20, 2001. Her parents, like most young couples, imagined what her life might be like and had daydreams about her playing soccer and the cello, her first day of school, and the first morning she would run down the hall and jump into their bed. But, less than a month before her first birthday, she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.
Although doctors performed surgery to biopsy the tumor soon after her diagnosis, it was later determined that an operation to remove the tumor would not be an option without devastating consequences. Because of her young age, radiation therapy would also cause more harm than good. It seemed chemotherapy was her best and only chance.
Suffering from hydrocephalus and other symptoms caused by the growing tumor and its treatment, Isabelle spent three weeks in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Primary Children's Hospital and eight more weeks in either the Neuro Trauma or Hematology/Oncology units.
Isabelle quickly lost her hair but she never misplaced her smile. She has been her parents' greatest source of hope and she continues to surprise and inspire them daily. Though much of her future is still in question, each day is both a blessing and a miracle.
Isabelle would like to thank all of the doctors and nurses who have taken such good care of her, and especially those who have donated the blood and platelets she continues to need with her treatments.— Isabelle's Dad
The afternoon Eliza was born, I kept saying to myself with wonder and disbelief, "It's only March 5th! It's only March 5th!"
You see, it was March 5, 2001, and Eliza was not due until June 12. She had been born 14 weeks early due to a deficient placenta. Not only was she extremely premature, but she was also much smaller than she should have been. She weighed in at 1 pound, 2 ounces. We were told that for her age, she should have weighed at least 2 pounds!
Less than two hours after birth, Eliza was transferred to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at the University of Utah Hospital, where she remained for exactly three-and-a-half months. During her hospital stay, she was kept on a ventilator for six weeks and was treated by the most professional and loving medical staff around. She also received seven blood transfusions, most of which took place in her first month of life.
While I was raised in a family that taught the importance of donating blood, I never thought I would experience such a direct confirmation of this need. We are so grateful for the blood donors who gave life to our baby! When you give blood, you truly do give life.
Eliza is now a happy, ever-growing baby who is bright, alert, and very healthy. She does not have any lasting effects from her severe prematurity. She has a contagious smile and loves to share it with anyone and everyone.
Please donate blood and give life to a baby, to a person, and to a family!
Thank you!— Julie Doherty
When I was 21, I was in the Navy, and I left the base on foot. I was in a hurry, and the road to and from the naval base was four lanes wide with a speed limit of 50 miles per hour outside the base. After walking a block or two in the median strip, I was hit by a speeding car. I was told that by the time the ambulance picked me up, I needed six units of blood. I woke up in the hospital in serious trauma but glad to be alive. After I recovered, I decided I would give blood whenever possible to "repay" what was given to me when I needed it.— Anonymous
In 1998, my 14-year-old daughter, Taran, was diagnosed with cancer. From the onset, she needed blood products as part of her treatment. I can’t begin to explain how difficult it is to meet the many challenges that come up when you have a child with a serious illness. Over the course of two years of treatment, she nearly died three times, underwent six major operations, and spent a total of two months in the ICU. All of which was coupled with chemotherapy and radiation treatment. I cannot even begin to count the units of blood that were needed to sustain her life. Without the blood, she would have died early on in her treatment.
While cancer eventually claimed her in May of 2001, the two additional years that I had with her are precious. She and I became very close. We spent a lot of time together and shared many tender moments. This time with my daughter would not have been possible without the blood donations of hundreds of people. I am grateful to them. I have no other way to pay them back than to be a regular donor myself.
For the first 40 years of my life, I had no need for hospitals or blood services, and nothing suggested that I would. That changed overnight, and if it happened to me, it could happen to anyone. I encourage everyone who is physically capable to be a regular donor. You can't believe how much it means to people in need.— Lt. Col. Randy Johnson, Utah Highway Patrol
Why donate blood you ask? I can answer this question in three simple words—it saves lives!
On April 15, 2001, I was involved in a rollover motor vehicle accident where I sustained life-threatening injuries and was immediately airlifted to the trauma unit at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. My list of injuries included a complex grade-five liver laceration with hypotension, a left pneumothorax, multiple left rib fractures with complete lung failure, a right pulmonary contusion, closed-head and traumatic brain injuries, a scalp laceration, a ligamentous cervical spine injury, a left radial arm fracture, and a dislocation of my left thumb. I required emergency exploratory surgeries, a left chest tube thoracostomy, operative repair on my left arm, and aggressive resuscitation. As a result of the trauma, I developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) as well as pneumonia. My hospital stay included a month in the Intensive Care Unit with approximately two-and-a-half weeks on full-time life support. I was later transported to LDS Hospital for a week of inpatient rehabilitation, which included physical, occupational, and speech therapy. I also received training for internal feedings, cognitive deficits, and swallowing.
As you can imagine, this ordeal has been the most horrific experience my family and I will ever encounter. Because of the expertise of the University of Utah Hospital Trauma unit staff and the invaluable consideration of those who donated blood, my life was saved.
I received three units of platelets, 12 units of red blood cells, and 25 units of plasma—totaling 40 units of blood products. Thanks to those 40 individuals who donated that blood, I am alive today.
I, along with my family, want to personally thank each and every person who has donated blood. Whether somebody close to you has needed blood or not, you, as a donor, need to know how important you are.
Thank you for taking your valuable time to donate life-saving blood products for those in need.— Ryan Gardner
Update: Click here to view the uplifting letter Ryan wrote exactly one year after his accident.
Donating blood is giving the gift of life. Our son, Shane, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at age 6 in December of 1999. This cancer prevents his bone marrow from making healthy blood cells, which would normally transport oxygen and iron, create platelets to clot, and build immunity against bacteria and viruses.
Upon diagnosis, Shane also suffered from anemia and was immediately given a blood transfusion. As the rosy color filled back into his body and face, we gave a quiet prayer of thanks to that person who shared a part of him or herself so our son may one day be healthy again and cancer-free. Since that first day, Shane has had several transfusions, and without them, he would not be here today.
Perhaps the greatest reward from donating blood is knowing your blood, part of who you are, lives on in those around you. So, for those who are thinking of donating, understand you would truly be offering the most beautiful part of yourself for the benefit of those less fortunate. And for those who have donated, Shane and all of our family thank you for giving him the greatest gift of all—the gift of life.
Shane just celebrated his eighth birthday. Please give the gift of life by donating blood.— Shane's Parents
Before I was born, my mother had a tubal pregnancy that nearly took her life. In the trauma center, she received four units of blood. If that blood had not been available, she would probably not have survived—and I wouldn't have been born a few years later. For this reason, I feel I owe my life to the thoughtful acts of blood donors, and I am proud to say I regularly donate blood.— Chris Stevens