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Faces for Life brought together 400 people on April 27 to show their support for Puget Sound Blood Center’s lifesaving work. We raised more than $360,000 to support both the everyday work of PSBC as well as research to advance medical breakthroughs in transfusion medicine, thrombosis and treatment of blood disorders. In between some fierce bidding wars, there were many moments of celebration for PSBC and the “faces for life” for whom the event is named. Dan Lewis and Kemper Freeman received Del Lewis Community Advocate Awards recognizing and honoring their work on behalf of PSBC. Later in the evening, there was hardly a dry eye in the room when three patients whose lives PSBC helped save shared their inspirational stories in a special video: Beth, Gary, and Taylor.
Watch the video here.
Sean and Louisa Cryan are an extraordinary father and daughter who share an uncommon bond. Within a span of several years, both were diagnosed with different types of leukemia. Today, both are alive because blood and bone marrow donors took the time to give.
Three years ago, Louisa was an active pre-teen and soccer star. Just 12 years old, she was diagnosed with leukemia. Five months after diagnosis and intense treatment, Louisa received a transplant of healthy stem cells sourced from PSBC’s Cord Blood Program. The stem cells Louisa received replaced cells damaged during treatment, and today her leukemia is in remission. During her treatment, in addition to stem cells, Louisa received a total of 69 units of blood components from PSBC donors.
Only a year after Louisa’s transplant, her dad Sean was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a different type of leukemia. It turned out that Sean, a local architect and avid bicycle commuter, also needed a bone marrow transplant. While waiting for a good match, Sean decided to take action to help others in need of blood and stem cell therapies. After learning about special demand for donations of blood and bone marrow from the diverse ethnic groups we have in our communities, Sean and Louisa became blood-drive coordinators themselves -- spearheading a campaign to educate the community, share their story, and encourage diverse donors to give blood and to enroll in the bone marrow registry.
Last summer, the blood and bone marrow drive organized in Seattle by this amazing duo brought in 44 blood donors and 72 new bone marrow registrants. A bone marrow match was found for Sean, and he received his transplant in October 2012. Like Louisa, Sean’s damaged bone marrow cells were successfully augmented by healthy ones from his donor. During his course of treatment, he received 12 units of blood components.
Thanks to generous people like you, this dad and daughter are back focusing on the things they love to do. Today, Louisa enjoys high school and all its opportunities. She recently spent a weekend learning to survive in the Cascade wilderness. Sean continues to recover from his recent transplant and looks forward to a fully-recovered immune system soon.
Have you or a family member had a transplant or other surgery? Share your story here.
Bob Forgrave (third from the right) is the co-founder and co-event-committee chair of Swim for Life, PSBC’s annual swim across Lake Washington to support signing up new people for the national bone marrow registry. He’s also the director of the local orienteering league and an aspiring bike designer—oh, and Bob is also a shark attack survivor, though that didn’t happen in Lake Washington. What drives Bob to make each year’s Swim for Life event better than the last? The challenge of the swim, the infectious energy of the swimmers he meets each year, and the opportunity to build and work with a high-performance team. Read more about this extraordinary volunteer in this interview:
How did you first get involved with Swim for Life and PSBC?
When Scott Leopold convinced me to join him in Swim’s second year, the event doubled in size – suddenly it was two people and two boats! After that, we worked on how to make the event not only bigger and more fun, but also more valuable for the community. The event has gone through many variations – one year, for instance, we had a hot chocolate boat in the middle of the lake. Through it all, we have really emphasized that this is a team event – people crossing the lake together and staying together.
Why do you support PSBC?
Being in a situation where I could be on the blood-receiving end reinforced for me the importance of donations. I was in a shark attack many years ago. I got lucky; quickly attended by paramedics, I didn’t personally end up needing blood. But that experience is always in my mind. So I give blood regularly and am going for a 100 unit leaf on PSBC’s Tree of Life. Also, I’ve seen how PSBC manages events. I really like putting together high-performance teams – aligning a diverse group of people behind a common goal, and watching magic happen. What people do together is so much more than what we could each do individually. Since PSBC has taken over the Swim, it has only gotten better. They do things the right way, and as a volunteer I like to be associated with that.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Orienteering has long been a passion of mine. My daughter’s middle school had no sports teams, so I formed one based on outdoor navigation. Orienteering teaches you get outside and explore parks using only a map, compass, and powers of observation. I saw the team as a place where kids would learn how to set goals, rely on themselves, and bounce back from setbacks.
A little volunteering can go a long way. That middle school team went on to win the Washington Interscholastic Orienteering League (WIOL), and then the national competition. Recently, two girls from that original team were selected to represent the United States in European competition as members of the U.S. Junior Orienteering Team.
What else are you working on right now?
I’m at the point in life where I’m looking at old things from a fresh perspective. Bikes are great exercise, and ton of fun. But there are basic problems riders encounter. How can you ride for hours without having shoulder, neck, and back pain? Do bikes make sense anywhere on the outside of a moving car? A folding recumbent bike solves a lot of problems. I’m working toward a first prototype now, with some exciting design advances that I’d love to discuss with equally passionate people. It’s a big challenge to get from a bold new idea to a commercialized reality, but if we assemble the right team of supporters, we can make it happen!
Have you received a blood transfusion? Share your story here.
Puget Sound Blood Center is thrilled to be participating in The Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG tomorrow. GiveBIG is a community-wide day of philanthropy. Plan on supporting PSBC as part of our community’s biggest day of charitable giving of the year!
- If you make a financial contribution through GiveBIG on May 15, you could be randomly selected for a Golden Ticket that wins you a $100 Starbucks gift card, and gives PSBC an extra $1,000 from The Seattle Foundation and other sponsors!
- Stretch your gift! Financial contributions will be stretched thanks to additional matching funds from The Seattle Foundation and corporate sponsors.
Make a gift online tomorrow here.
In honor of Memorial Day on May 27, we stop to remember and honor the exceptional men and women who have lost their lives in service to our nation. We also take this opportunity to recognize the many individuals in the armed forces and in uniform who are serving our country today – thank you.
Puget Sound Blood Center has a long history of working with the U.S. Armed Forces. Today, we are proud to partner with the military in a variety of ways, including:
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