By Dana Simmons, American Red Cross
In 2008, Jessada Pilanun received two blood transfusions while undergoing cancer treatment. 14 years later, Jessada and her husband Chaiwat collectively have donated 77 units of blood to give back and help patients in need.
In 2007, Jessada received news that she had ovarian cancer. Shortly after her diagnosis, she underwent chemotherapy, several procedures and two blood transfusions. “I never knew the importance of donating blood until I received it,” said Jessada. Jessada is incredibly grateful for the selfless donors who helped her, and she has a simple yet impactful message for the donors, “Thank you. You saved my life. I’m really grateful.”
Chaiwat wanted to find a way that he could help pay back those who helped his wife. That’s when he decided to roll up his sleeve and donate blood.
Chaiwat recalls that in 2008 he was working in Washington D.C. as an architect, and he would sneak out of his office to donate blood every two months. His coworkers started to notice that he would disappear for a few hours every couple of months and they eventually asked him where he was going. After sharing that he was leaving to donate blood and his motivation for donating, several of his coworkers started following him to roll up their sleeves as well. 14 years later, Chaiwat continues to help patients in need and recently received a pin for donating 52 units of blood. “Every time I do it, I feel good about it because I know I’m helping people,” said Chaiwat.
After Jessada recovered from cancer she wanted to join Chaiwat in giving back. After she consulted her doctor and waited the appropriate amount of time after recovering from cancer, she was eligible to donate blood as well. Since then, Jessada has donated blood 25 times and credits Chaiwat for being her inspiration because of his long-time commitment to rolling up a sleeve.
This husband-and-wife team continues to donate blood together every 56 days and encourage others to give blood as well. “If they look out and see in a broader perspective that their blood can save lives, the prick of a needle really won’t mean anything,” said Jessada.
To learn more about blood donation or to make an appointment to give you can download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).