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UCLA chancellor appointment

2023 Healthcare Student Blood Drive fosters habitual donation through touching recipient stories

The David Geffen School of Medicine (pictured) is one of the central medical complexes at UCLA. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Camille Ray

Jan. 12, 2023 2:38 p.m.

“My son Charlie was six weeks premature, and if he hadn’t been born early my late husband, Ryan, wouldn’t have been able to meet him. It was the emergency UCLA blood transfusions that were able to keep him alive for four more weeks, long enough to be in the room when Charlie was born and rest his head on the incubator after. And when Ryan was finally able to hold our son in his arms you could see the peace he felt on his face,” said Caitlin Sebastian, a first-year medical student at UCLA.

It’s not often that you have the opportunity to do something simple that can save another person’s life. But that’s exactly what occurs every time you donate blood, and stories like Caitlin’s are heartbreaking yet powerful reminders of the real-world impact blood donations have on members of the UCLA community. According to the Red Cross, someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds. Whether patients experience surgeries, cancer treatment, chronic illnesses or traumatic injuries, the lifesaving qualities of blood donations mean the need for blood is as insistent as it is necessary.

Without an abundant on-site blood transfusion supply, hospitals risk the inability to treat emergency patients like Cailtin’s late husband Ryan, whose lives greatly depend on the treatment’s speed. Luckily, at the time of Ryan’s surgery, the UCLA medical center possessed sufficient amounts of blood to perform the surgery that allowed father and son to meet. However, maintaining an adequate blood supply remains difficult when hospitals are unable to collect a steady flow of donations.

With this in mind, while Caitlin acknowledges that the physical process of donating blood may appear inconsequential, experiencing the life-giving qualities of transfusions first-hand meant a better understanding of its importance. Now attending school to become a medical professional, Caitlin uses her position and story to inspire her classmates and surrounding peers to donate routinely.

“So many people need life-saving blood donations, but when you’re donating it, it doesn’t necessarily feel like that big of a deal,” Sebastian said. “My belief is that people aren’t hard to convince to be inspired to donate from a moral standpoint. It’s more putting it into action and making those donation choices habitual that’s the important part to me.”

Putting her initiative into action, Caitlin is partnering with the UCLA Blood and Platelet Center to host a blood drive on Jan. 13 to promote and encourage participants to donate blood with the opportunity to visualize the direct impact each donation has via Caitlin’s heart-wrenching story. Located at Geffen Hall, students in the medical, dentistry and nursing schools are the main focus for the event; however, Caitlin clarified that anyone interested in donating is not only welcome but encouraged to participate as any amount of donation is valued. Expect the event to last from 11 AM to 4 PM, with food and drinks served while supplies last.

For those interested in supporting the cause and donating, the center takes appointments through its website,, and walk-ins for last-minute donors. If you’re unable to make it to the event but still wish to donate, the UCLA Blood and Platelet Center located at Ackerman Union is open Monday through Thursday from 11 AM to 5:40 PM; on Friday, it will be available from 9 AM to 3:40 PM. Show support for blood transfusion recipients by donating blood on Jan. 13 and throughout the year.

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Camille Ray
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