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San Diego State alumna travels to Florida to donate blood stem cells and save a woman’s life

Jun 22, 2021 by Gift of Life Donor Story

Rachel’s journey as a Gift of Life stem cell donor has taken her long distances for the chance to save a woman’s life. She joined the registry in Jerusalem, Israel on her Birthright trip in 2018, then traveled from home in San Diego, Calif. to Boca Raton, Fla. to donate. 

“Until I saw the presentation I didn’t realize how easy it was for me to make a difference in someone else’s life,” said Rachel. “Everyone in my group swabbed, and one other person was called as a possible match, but I’m the first one to actually donate.” 

In February 2021 she matched a woman in her mid-30s who is battling leukemia, and was promptly notified by Gift of Life. 

“I was in class when the call came and got that little transcript on my phone,” she said. “I was on camera when I was reading it and suddenly was excited and nervous. I called back right away when class was over, then ran upstairs to tell my mom and sister the news.” 

Though her sister had also swabbed on her Birthright trip, mom Robin had not heard of the registry before. However,  when she learned more information she got excited, too, and decided to join Rachel on her donation trip to Florida. 

It’s not really about us as donors, it’s about doing something positive for the patient and their family.


Spring break at her school was converted to a series of four-day class weeks for 2021, and Rachel had no trouble getting the okay from her professors to take a few days extra to help someone in need. 

“We thought the hotel was fabulous, and during donation we watched some HGTV and cooking shows,” said Rachel. Gift of Life strives to give every donor who visits our collection center a special and memorable experience.

Rachel has been thinking about her recipient often, and wishes her the best for her recovery. 
“It’s not really about us as donors, it’s about doing something positive for the patient and their family,” she said. “I’m really glad that I was able to help make a difference.”


Rachel graduated from San Diego State University in May 2021 with a degree in psychology, and is pursuing graduate work this fall at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. In her free time she plays tennis with her siblings and enjoys watching movies on Netflix.