August 01, 2013
From the Orange County Register
Published August 1, 2013
For this pair, donating at CHOC is also father-son time.
By Courtney Perkes / The Orange County REgister
Every eight weeks, Jerry Wilcox and his son Jeremy roll up their sleeves to do some good while catching up.
They each donate a pint of blood to Children's Hospital of Orange County, a family tradition that started six years ago.
"It's something that is fun to do," said Jeremy, 31. "I look forward to seeing my dad and helping out in whatever way we can."
Jerry, 59, a business software engineer, began donating his A negative blood to the Red Cross in 1972. He switched to CHOC in 2006 after his daughter, a high school teacher, told him about a pediatric cancer patient who needed blood.
He asked Jeremy if he wanted to join him.
"It's kinda neat," Jerry said. "My dad used to donate with the Red Cross. Maybe I got started because of his influence."
Last year, CHOC collected 67 percent of the blood needed to transfuse patients. The remainder came from other blood banks. Donations typically drop during the summer because of vacation and other activities, said Matthew Cianciulli, manager of blood and donor services.
"Ultimately, we'd like to be fully self-sufficient," he said.
The blood bank collects an average of 200 pints a month but needs closer to 300, Cianciulli said. He said he appreciates consistent donors like the Wilcoxes.
"I think it's awesome that they dedicate that amount of time and it just becomes part of their lifestyle," he said. "It's an easy way to give back to the community. Not everyone can make financial donations with the economy, but giving blood is something the majority of people can do, but don't."
Last week, Jeremy, an attorney, walked from his office in Orange to CHOC's blood bank. He can see the hospital from his office window.
"I see where my blood goes," said Jeremy, who lives in Orange. "I know the sick kids are getting some benefit from what I do. It makes me feel good inside."
Jerry, who lives in Lakewood, drove from his office in La Palma.
They sat next to each other in big, padded recliners and talked about a relative's wedding, a helicopter rescue and an upcoming birthday party.
"We just visit," Jerry said. "It's just another opportunity to get to see each other."
"It gives us a chance to talk when not a lot's going on except sitting here with needles in our arms," Jeremy said. "Sometimes we subconsciously race to see who finishes first. We keep track of how fast our blood's flowing."
Jeremy, a father of two, donated his AB negative blood for the first time as a teen.
"It was either him or Mom that had to sign off on my first donation when I was in high school," Jeremy said. "From there, I've donated blood whenever I could."
Over the years, they've gotten to know the nurses who draw their blood.
"We know them. They know us," Jeremy said. "They remember us."
"Which arm, which chair," Jerry added.
"Which vein works best," Jeremy said.
They also have their preferences for the cookies they eat afterward to stabilize their blood sugar. "I'm partial to the peanut butter," Jeremy said. "He's partial to oatmeal raisin."
Father and son always schedule their next appointment after they finish.
"He gets a card and puts it in his wallet," Jeremy said. "I put it on my phone in the calendar."
Both men keep a low profile with their co-workers. By the time Jerry returns to work, he's already removed the colored gauze from his forearm.
"Most people don't know that I do it," Jeremy said. "I just come here, do my thing and go back to work."
Contact the writer: email@example.com 714-796-3686
How to donate
CHOC's blood bank is at 505 S. Main St., Suite 185, in Orange. Donors must be at least 17, in good health, weigh at least 110 pounds and have no history of hepatitis, AIDS, chest pain or cardiac surgery. Donations can be made Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Info: 714-509-8339 or email firstname.lastname@example.org