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Colorado woman travels to Florida to donate blood stem cells to child battling aplastic anemia

Aug 17, 2021 by Gift of Life Donor Story

In May 2019, Anna saw a presentation by a Gift of Life representative about how easy it is to save a life, and decided it was time to join the registry. 

“I swabbed in Israel during part of the Amazing Israel Birthright trip,” said Anna, 27, a resident of Edwards, Colo. “I have always donated blood and love helping people, and this was another great opportunity to do so.” 

She did not have long to wait; less than two years later, Anna received a call from a Gift of Life Donor Services coordinator that she was a match for a 10-year-old boy battling aplastic anemia, a bone marrow disease where not enough blood cells are able to be produced. After completing a second swab kit, the lab test confirmed that she was the best match for the child. 

“I was at home when I got the call and was a little nervous at first,” said Anna. “After much thought and more research, I decided donating was the right thing to do.” Her family and boyfriend Ben (who swabbed along with her in Israel) were excited and happy for her to have this incredible opportunity. 

Anna donated at the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Gift of Life-Be The Match Collection Center at Gift of Life’s headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., but travel from Colorado was easy for her and Ben. He was a little jealous that she was the first one called as a match, but accompanying her as her companion on her “donation vacation” made up for it. The two went on a mission to find and eat the best fish and chips in the area.

“The Gift of Life team was excellent!” said Anna. “They all did such an amazing job taking care of me. I was a little nervous during donation because knowing I have small veins, I was afraid they wouldn’t get all the cells they needed. The nurses and team were very helpful and reassuring.” Anna did not need to worry; her donation went without a hitch. 

She also received plenty of support and recognition from work and family, and even had the chance to visit her grandparents in Ft. Lauderdale, whom she hadn’t seen since the start of the pandemic. 

“Everyone I have talked to was very supportive of my choice to donate,” she said. “And I would be happy to meet my recipient and their family someday.” 

Anna also feels that she had an incredible and important experience.  

“I wanted a way to save a life, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to do so,” she said. “It was an absolutely amazing experience.” 

Anna, originally from Michigan, is a graduate of Oakland University and currently works in reservation sales. In her leisure time she watches movies, travels, follows the sports action of the Detroit Tigers and Redwings, and enjoys eating good food and spending time with her family, Ben, and her rescue dog, Louie.