My father was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes as a teenager. He spent most of his life on insulin, until he went into kidney failure when I was four years old. After years on the donor list, a kidney and pancreas became available. He received seven blood transfusions in his 14-hour surgery. But two years later, his body rejected the kidney and he was back to square one. Through the kindness of his brother who was a match, my father received his second kidney transplant, along with several pints of blood. Without blood donors, my father wouldn’t have survived those surgeries and might not be alive today, 20 years later.
Katen and her dad
My father's journey has made me passionate about ensuring that people like him have access to blood when they need it. Although 45 percent of Americans have been personally affected by blood donation, only 3 percent of Americans regularly donate blood.
I’m personally unable to donate blood, but I’ve found another way to give back to the cause: organizing blood drives at Google. Through my work organizing 20 blood drives, I’ve encountered countless others who have personal ties to blood donation, including Googlers like Daniel Otts, who regularly donates blood in memory of his son Ferris who required plasma infusions after being born prematurely. Losing Ferris forever changed Daniel’s outlook on blood donation. “I remember how thankful I was that someone, an anonymous stranger, had given of themselves so unselfishly for the benefit of someone else, quite possibly in a life or death situation,” Daniel told me.
Through these drives, we’ve collected thousands of pints of blood. And through Google’s partnership with the American Red Cross, which uses Google Maps Platform to help people find a blood drive near them, we’ve reached thousands more people across the U.S.
This technology also helped Temie Giwa-Tubosun, a Nigerian native and founder of LifeBank, an app that uses Google Maps Platform to connect blood banks with drivers, hospitals, and patients in need. To date, Temie’s app has drastically cut delivery time of blood from 24 hours to less than 45 minutes and helped save more than 4,000 lives.
Through my own experience, I know how important it is to give blood. And Daniel and Temie are proof of that, too. On World Blood Donor Day, we hope you’ll visit the Red Cross site to find a blood drive near you and plan your donation.