Kevin’s story: blood donation and BBQ

September 1, 2016 at 4:13 pm



Meet Kevin Jones and his girlfriend, Debbie. Kevin is a double red cell donor at BloodworksNW’s Olympia Donor Center.

Kevin came in to present us with a donation of $1113 today! Kevin puts on fundraising events, and this year he chose BloodworksNW as the recipient of money raised at the Annual Greasy Biker & Neighbor BBQ.

The Greasy Biker & Neighbor BBQ started in Kevin’s backyard, but the event grew. Past attendees wanted to camp out overnight. And thought a band and bike show would be great too.

Today, it’s an extravaganza of bikes, beer, and BBQ pork, chicken, steamers, and oysters.

Kevin believes in BloodworksNW’s mission, and always wants to do good for his community. A couple of years ago, Kevin raised funds for a friend who was undergoing cancer treatment. His friend had a single-income family, and Kevin wanted to do something to alleviate some of their financial stresses.

Kevin’s generosity will go towards our fundraising efforts for a new Mini Bus in Olympia. He is happy to know that the money will help community blood drives in Mason and Thurston counties.

Thank you, Kevin!

Your financial contributions make a difference! Make a gift online.

Chad’s story: a dad giving back for his son

June 16, 2016 at 7:00 am

Chad’s colleagues donate blood at the drive he organized.

When Chad Etsell’s coworkers at heard that BloodworksNW was having a shortage of certain blood types, they wanted to go into a donor center to donate blood as a group.

Chad figured, why not set up a blood drive in’s Seattle office instead? Within a day and a half, thirty-five people had committed.

Blood donation and donated blood mean a lot to Chad and his family.

Blood donations literally saved my son’s life, so it has a special place for me. I want to donate as much as I can whenever I can, and encourage other people to do the same.

When he was just over one year old, the Etsell’s oldest son, Henry, lost two thirds of his blood into his abdomen after a routine operation turned into an emergency.

After the operation he was very pale and lethargic and not his normal self, even considering having an operation, and had massive bruising and massive swelling.

Tests showed that Henry had hemophilia, an inherited disorder caused by missing clotting protein, called factor. Henry received factor infusions to stop the bleeding and blood transfusions to get his blood level back to normal. He spent four or five days in Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Today, three-year-old Henry receives his daily infusion of factor and immune therapy treatment like a champ.

Chad and Graham helping Henry with his daily factor fusion

Chad and Graham helping Henry with his daily factor fusion.

It doesn’t phase him – he just watches his cartoons or eats breakfast while we’re doing it and it’s totally fine.

Chad is the only one in his family who can donate blood: his wife, Nicolette, and youngest son, Graham, also have hemophilia. He takes pride in being a blood donor.

Chad gives with help from Henry

Chad donates blood with help from Henry.

It’s something you do because it’s important and because it helps people. The stats I found really hit it home: one in four people is going to need at least one transfusion in their life. It’s guaranteed someone very close to you is going to need a blood transfusion.

That’s a pretty huge impact for something that’s relatively small.

Chad’s encouragement paid off: registered 44 donors, with 32 first time donors at their drive in May!

Want to help? Schedule your next donation or organize a blood drive.

Molly’s cord blood story: Reflecting on a great moment

May 6, 2016 at 3:53 pm

Safeco Field

When Molly Olsen was in labor with her daughter Judith in 2006, one of the nurses at Swedish Ballard asked her if she wanted to donate cord blood.  She agreed, signed the consent forms, and paid no attention to the collection while she bonded with her baby girl.

Molly didn’t even remember that she had donated Judith’s cord blood until she got the call that she’ll never forget in 2011.

It was the middle of the day. I was walking out to the car, putting my daughter in the car as well. The phone call was real quick: “it’s BloodworksNW. We wanted to let you know that the cord blood you donated has been matched with a 42-year-old man with leukemia.”

She thought at first that she was being asked to donate bone marrow; the situation didn’t hit her right away.

And then she realized the donation had a personal significance too.

I just thought of Michael, and I couldn’t believe that this thing I had done so offhandedly might have saved someone’s life.

Michael Josh  Molly

Michael, left, poses with Molly and another friend.

Molly’s close friend and colleague Michael died at age 30 from leukemia, the first person in her adult life to pass away.

He was a very dynamic person, a writer and artist, and had just written a play. He made the most of his life, even knowing it was finite in a very extreme way.

Michael kept his illness a secret from Molly and his other friends until just before he went into the hospital; Molly was shocked and devastated when she found out. She recalls that he didn’t seem sick until he received a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor.

She moved to an apartment closer to his to help out after his transplant, and when she visited him in the hospital, Michael would take Polaroid pictures and put them up on his wall.

After Michael died in 1997, Molly moved to Seattle.

Today, she’s a Senior Program Manager for a mobile messaging company and enjoys every moment with her grade-schooler: “We have the most fun!” Molly says.


Judith understands that someone out there had a chance to live because of her.

She was a little young to make all the connections, but she knew that something good had happened because she was born. It was really a great moment.

Because cord blood donors are always anonymous, Molly and Judith will never know the outcome, but they’re happy they were able to bring hope to someone who needed help.

I was really grateful that you guys called me. It would have meant just as much to Michael.

Dedication to saving lives runs in her blood!

April 15, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Colleen with her grandson and furry friends

Dedication to saving lives runs in Colleen Abrams’ blood:

My mother was a blood donor, and you just pick it up from the family.

When the Mountlake Terrace resident retired from her remote administrative position with University of Alaska Fairbanks three years ago, she was excited to have more time to focus on family and community service. She switched from donating whole blood to platelets, and has become one of our most dedicated and active volunteers – she worked 113 shifts in 2015, totaling 454 hours!

Colleen has scheduled volunteer shifts in Everett and Lynnwood, and fills in at North Seattle as well. She loves the positive people that come in to save lives.

This is one of the most worthwhile organizations to be a part of because of the positiveness of the people. The staff is absolutely marvelous – all the people you get to work with are, both professional and volunteers (including the donors). It’s something to look forward to each day.

She enjoys talking with donors and learning about the issues that matter to them – for example, a man recently talked with her about his son’s experience with autism.

She also enjoys the fun coincidences.

I have only had two people come in with birthdays on February 29th, and both of them came in during the same shift!

Colleen has seen firsthand the lifesaving power of donated blood – her brother-in-law has MDS (Myelodysplastic syndromes), a disease where the bone marrow stops producing red cells.

At one point he had to have four units of blood and one unit of platelets in one sitting. He was getting blood transfusions monthly.

When she’s not volunteering or donating platelets, Colleen feels blessed to regularly travel down to Portland to visit her new grandson, Silas, and go on walks with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy. She’s active in her church, and enjoys taking her trailer camping – it also gives her a place to stay in Portland when Silas’ other grandma visits at the same time!

She’ll have to miss a few of her BloodworksNW shifts in May when she heads to Haiti to hand out glasses at free medical clinics. It’s her third time going, and she’s found the experience rewarding and eye-opening.

BloodworksNW is grateful to have volunteers like Colleen who care so deeply about their local and global communities on our team.

Want to join the BloodworksNW volunteer team? Learn more at

Meet Pete, BloodworksNW volunteer courier & ESL tutor

April 12, 2016 at 9:21 am

Pete Weiner (left) poses with fellow Transportation volunteer Bob Goldberg

As a retired businessman and father, Pete Weiner is used to being busy!

I used to own my own business. I was raising kids, and didn’t have time to read the newspaper, let alone volunteer!

Pete started volunteering 17 years ago after he became semi-retired, and has been with BloodworksNW for three years.

Pete’s main position is as a volunteer courier, transporting everything from blood and office supplies between our Central Seattle donor center and Renton testing facility, with a few stops in between. Because he and his partner, Sharon, travel frequently, he picks up four-hour shifts as needed rather than having a designated schedule, typically, doing one or two a week.

Occasionally, he will also do a ferry run, transporting blood collected at a drive in Kitsap, Poulsbo, or Vashon Island to Renton.

After officially retiring in November, Pete added another role to his plate: he volunteers as an ESL tutor for visiting scientists at Bloodworks Research Institute. Many of our remarkable researchers come from other countries and want to feel more comfortable speaking English, so he meets with them weekly and gives them writing assignments.

It’s a win-win for both parties:

I find it interesting hearing about some of the different projects – I have a background in biology. I’ve attended some of their lab meetings and can sort of follow it.

The Burien resident likes that his courier position keeps him active and makes a difference in our community.

Just getting [to my shift] I will walk 3-4 miles! I walk to the bus, walk downtown, walk up to Central, and probably get walking in between. It keeps me out and active, not looking at a computer. I feel like I’m maybe helping somebody I don’t know.

Pete isn’t entirely sure how he became involved with Bloodworks, but his charm, friendliness, and good nature have been an asset to our organization, says Volunteer Coordinator Colette Glenn. Pete says,

I was looking for some organizations that I have a passing interest in. As one of my semi-retirement jobs, I worked as an EMT. I loved working with healthcare system – I took a year of hematology in college.

When he’s not volunteering, Pete enjoys bike tours in the Pacific Northwest with Sharon and travelling the world – the couple went to New Zealand in February and March. He’s currently volunteering with the Bureau of Land Management at a campground in Utah as a land ranger assistant – it’s his fifth year of doing this – and is looking forward to getting back to his BloodworksNW volunteer shifts in a month.

It’s a way to stay active, learn new information, and get involved in other experiences. I started off as biology teacher and would have liked to go into the field of biology, so I found other opportunities to fulfill my field biologist yearnings. It’s a way of doing things that in our other life we didn’t have an opportunity to do.

Pete adds,

[BloodworksNW] is one of the organizations that seems to really foster and support volunteers!

Want to join the BloodworksNW volunteer team? Learn more at

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