By Brianna Kelly, American Red Cross
Dawn Dann has been an American Red Cross platelet, plasma and whole blood donor for over 40 years. She started donating blood when a local church held a blood drive for the son of a local family who was going through cancer treatments. When Dawn learned that one blood donation could help save up to three lives, she couldn’t wait to give blood.
“I was eager to start donating,” says Dawn. With a rare blood type of AB+, she was asked to donate platelets and plasma, and over the years remained a dedicated blood donor – even making the multiple hour round-trip drive from San Diego to the Laguna Hills Red Cross Blood, Platelet and Plasma Donation Center to donate blood. “They even have my name on a plaque on their wall for donating more than 200 units,” she says.
Dawn’s reason for donating blood for so many years is simple: helping others. “Knowing that one donation can save up to three lives is what keeps me donating,” she says. “Just doing my small part in helping another person.”
In March 2023, Dawn was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent multiple radiation treatments. Due to her cancer diagnosis and treatment, she had to pause her blood donations. Determined to continue giving back, Dawn became a Blood Donor Ambassador with the Red Cross. As a Blood Donor Ambassador, she greets blood donors and ensures they have a positive blood donation experience. “I now live in Menifee and love volunteering at different locations in Riverside County. It’s very rewarding knowing that I can still do a small part in saving lives,” she says. “Meeting new people and asking them their ‘Why do you donate?’ makes my day.”
Dawn is not the only cancer warrior in her family. Her mother was diagnosed with leukemia and has blood transfusions every six weeks. “She’s still with us and has been undergoing treatments for four years now,” says Dawn. “I wish I could continue donating my plasma and platelets since I know it is saving her life. I am very thankful and honored to be representing an organization that has had a direct effect in my life and that of my family.”
Dawn’s experience with the Red Cross extends beyond her blood donation and service as a Blood Donor Ambassador. The Red Cross was also there to help her family after the wildfires in Hawaii. “The Lahaina wildfires in August took my grandparents’ two homes, displacing my aunt and uncle who were living there to take care of the two homes. Luckily, they were traveling and not home, so they are now living with other relatives,” says Dawn. “American Red Cross disaster teams made a huge impact in helping my relatives find their footing, find help with food and shelter and next steps. Our family is indebted to the services that the American Red Cross provides every day.”
As she looks to the future, Dawn is excited to continue giving back as a blood donor when she can donate again. “What other gift can you give than the gift of life?” she says.
You can join Dawn and help give the gift of life as a Red Cross blood donor. To make an appointment to give blood or platelets, donors can use the Red Cross Blood App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). To learn more about Red Cross volunteer opportunities, such as becoming a Blood Donor Ambassador, visit redcross.org/volunteer.