Donating blood is a family affair for the Zanders.
As Henry and Fred Zander sat side by side donating platelets, they shared their story. Henry had been born with leukemia. At three years old, he underwent treatment including a bone marrow transplant.
“I spent months in the hospital with him,” said Fred, Henry’s dad. “I watched all sorts of blood products go into that little body nearly daily.” While Fred was already a blood donor, watching his three-year-old son undergo cancer treatment and receive blood inspired him to begin donating regularly.
“My mother was a phlebotomist when I was a kid,” said Fred. “As soon as I was old enough, I’d be volun-told when it was time to donate blood. Later, when we went through Henry’s treatment, it made me become a consistent donor.”
The family tradition continues to grow. “Henry’s older brother got us to start donating platelets, and soon enough Henry and his sister started giving platelets too. Now we all give platelets.”
“For a long time I thought I wasn’t eligible to donate, being a cancer survivor” said Henry. “But my dad finally roped me in, and I found out I was eligible.”
Their family history of saving lives started early, too. When Henry was a child and needed a bone marrow transplant, his sister happened to be the perfect match.
“It feels important to give back,” said Henry, now a healthy adult. “This system works because people are willing to show up. I’m alive because people showed up for me. They didn’t know where any of that blood was going, but they saved my life.”