Turning 13 is a big milestone for kids; one often marked by a memorable celebration, rather than a call for increased blood donations. But 12-year-old Austin Le Monte has very different plans for his upcoming birthday. Instead of a party and presents, he’s asking friends and family to donate blood to CHOC Children’s.
Seen by numerous specialists at CHOC, including a pulmonologist, allergist, gastroenterologist, hematologist and cardiologist, Austin has benefitted directly from the hospital. When he comes to CHOC for his monthly infusions, he sees other children, like him, who depend on the generous support of blood donors.
The first Austin Le Monte Blood Drive took place last year, attracting 28 donors over six days. This year, he has worked with CHOC’s Blood and Donor Services to extend the drive, which launches February 1 and will conclude on March 30, his birthday.
“We added more time to allow even more people to make plans to donate,” explains Austin. “I’d like to get at least double the number of donors we had last year.”
He has secured the support of his care teams, who participated in his blood drive last year and plan to do so again.
Dr. Anthony McCanta, his cardiologist, says, “Austin is a great young man, whose life is integrally connected to CHOC, doing a selfless act to help other patients. I am definitely donating again in his blood drive and encouraging my colleagues to do the same.”
Austin’s mom, Heather, shares Dr. McCanta’s admiration. “Austin has been through a lot and his experiences have only increased his feelings of empathy towards others. He’s kind, caring and compassionate, and really just wants to help other kids.”
In addition to organizing his blood drive, Austin stays busy with his honor classes and soccer team. He admits his focus over the next couple of months will be the blood drive; he’ll likely call daily to check in on the number of donors.
“Donating blood saves lives. When you donate to CHOC, you are supporting a great place and kids who really need the blood,” says Austin. And for people who may get scared or anxious by the thought of donating their blood, he encourages them to consider the courage of CHOC patients. “Just think about what they are going through. They stay brave, and so should you.”
To participate in Austin’s blood drive, February 1 – March 30, call 714-509-8339 to make an appointment or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note CHOC’s Blood and Donor Services is open 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Monday – Friday.
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