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Why I donate — stories from OP’s loyal blood donors

Donating blood is one of the many ways UCOP employees step up to make a difference. OP’s core group of donors is loyal, proud and eager to grow!

Here are a few of the many stories shared by OP staff members about why they donate blood, and why they encourage others – if they are able – to do so as well.

Save the date: April 23 blood drive

You’re bound to be inspired by the stories shared below. Register for the next local blood drive. To make an appointment to donate, or if you have questions, contact Jan Kehoe at 7-9526 or

Date: Tuesday, April 23
Time: 8:15 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Location: The Bloodmobile will be parked in front of the East Bay Municipal Utility District building on 11th Street between Franklin and Webster streets

All about the treats

Need just one reason to roll up your sleeves? Jan’s famous treats are a great one!

“This is going to sound funny, but I donate because I love the treats. Ever since I began giving blood — which seems like eons ago — I have given because I can (some people can’t and wish they could), it’s the right thing to do (paying it forward), and karma (you never know when someone you love may need blood). But, mostly it is for the treats! I love getting something nice for doing something that is so simple and beneficial for others.” — Belinda Vea, policy program analyst, Student Affairs

First time jitters

Are you less than fond of needles? You’re definitely not alone! Several people shared their journeys to regular donation.

“My first experience donating blood was as a junior in high school, and it did not go well. This bad experience, coupled with a crippling fear of needles, made it an easy decision to never donate blood again. Fast forward one decade and a close friend’s nephew was fighting a nasty battle with Leukemia. After seeing pictures of 5-year old Ryan wheeling his way through the hospital with needles, tubes and machines in tow — but laughing and with a smile on his face — I immediately felt guilty that my own fears had prevented me from taking action. Ryan lost his battle with Leukemia one year later, but donating in his name is my way of silently giving back to others while honoring his life.” — Name withheld by request

“Since I was a child, I have always been afraid of needles. My parents would basically have to trick me into going to the doctor’s office for shots. My senior year of high school, I got the courage to go with my friends to donate during our school blood drive. I was completely scared,  but having my friends in the room with me and seeing how casual they were about it really calmed me down. Since then, I have continued to donate just about every eight weeks. I still feel a little anxiety at the beginning, but then I am completely fine. I truly believe that donating blood has helped me to conquer my fear of needles!” — Allison Hill, administrative analyst, Office of Risk Services

Saving lives

Though Jan Kehoe’s homemade treats are next level, OP staff really donate blood for one simple reason – to save lives.

“In my early 20s, a friend of mine had Leukemia. A large group of friends and I put our names on the National Bone Marrow Registry. We knew it was unlikely that we would match our friend, but we hoped that others would do what we had done and that in this way, we could all help each other get what we needed — especially hope. I got called two weeks later; I was a perfect match for someone else. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Each time I went to the hospital to get the needed injections, I had the honor of sitting with many families who were going through treatment, too. I saw the hope on their faces. I still get teary-eyed thinking about how much it meant to them and now me. After donating bone marrow, I started to donate blood on a regular basis and have encouraged others to do the same. Of all the gifts I have given, donating bone marrow and blood has given me the most in return. I rate it up there with marriage to the woman of my dreams 20 years ago, and the birth of my daughter 10 years ago.” — Dylan Paul, Associate Director, Procurement Services

“Why do I donate? Because I first learned as a teen that donations really save lives. People like my college RA, who had sickle cell anemia and needed transfusions. And a family friend’s daughter, who was born with multiple congenital heart and lung defects and underwent three open-heart surgeries before she was 8. And people I haven’t known — trauma patients, cancer patients and other folks in awful situations — who were in need of healthy blood. Despite an intense dislike of shots, I have learned that the process isn’t scary or painful and (bonus!) I am lucky enough to have minimal side effects. Despite a few rough donations and breaks over the past 20-plus years, I’ll be rolling up my sleeve and donating on April 23. Why? Because despite medical advances, there’s still no substitute for blood.” — Julie Miller, IT Client Services

Thank you to the many OP staff members who shared their stories — too many to include here! Check out our next blood drive announcement, in a few months, for more.


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  1. Trish Dolan April 2, 2019 Reply

    Thanks to Jan Kehoe for launching the OP Blood drive in 2003 in honor of my daughter, Vanessa Wittmer, who was diagnosed with blood cancer (leukemia) that year at the age of 5. I know first hand that the many transfusions that Vanessa had helped save her life! I am honored to share that Vanessa is 14 years cancer free! She is proof that blood donors are LIFE SAVERS. She will never be able to donate blood, but I can and do. My blood type is not common (A-) therefore, it is my duty to give often and I hope more colleagues will read these stories and feel compelled to donate. You never know when you might need blood. Karma and paying it forward is always a good thing!

  2. Trish Dolan April 16, 2019 Reply

    Thanks to Dylan Paul for being such a hero! I saw many small children, including an 18 month old go through a bone marrow transplant (BMT) while my daughter was in cancer treatment for over 2 years. These are never easy and are no guarantees, but like Dylan said, the HOPE it gives to a family is better than never trying. We all want to know that there are greater chances of winning in life. I urge you to try if you have been on the fence. You have nothing to lose – best part of it are Jan’s cookies at the end! So what are you waiting for? Help save a life…you will not regret it!

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