Dennis and his son and daughter

A Gift that Continues to Give: One Blood Donor’s Legacy

December 22, 2015 at 9:48 am

What is a legacy? By definition, it is a noun meaning 1. Law. a gift of property, especially personal property, as money, by will; a bequest. Or 2.anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor. One long-time blood donor’s legacy is a lifetime of donating blood products to save countless lives and watching his children grow up to follow in his noble footsteps.

Dennis Briskin recently returned from a trip with this story to share:

At a weekend men’s retreat for my synagogue, (Congregation Etz Chayim in Palo Alto) the theme was Legacies, both those we receive and those we pass on. On the final evening, the leaders asked us to create on ceramic material (dinner plate or small tile squares) something (words or an image or both) that represents our legacy.

Plate promoting blood donationHe chose to represent giving blood with the image of a blood drop and these inspiring words: “Save the life of a stranger. Show compassion for others. ‘Do not stand idly by the blood of your brother.’ A Neg, CMV Neg High platelet counts. Good veins.”

Dennis has been donating with Stanford Blood Center for over 30 years and has reached over 400 donations (402 at the time this piece was written). He started donating in college in the mid-1960’s, when blood banks still paid donors for a pint of blood or plasma. When he ran low on funds, donating was a quick and easy way to earn some money. But before too long, Dennis saw a greater value in donating — the ability to help save a life — and when he moved to Palo Alto in the late 1970’s, he didn’t give it a second thought when he saw that SBC was recruiting volunteer blood donors.

As the years passed, Dennis continued to donate, and also started a family; he has a son, Jacob, and a daughter, Mariana. Over the years, he did not give much though to whether his children would become donors. “I simply said to them ‘it’s a noble and simple form of charity to help save the life or restore the health of a stranger, someone who will never know your name and never thank you and the need is there every day,” said Dennis.

Both children — Jacob, now 25, and Mariana, 18 — did in fact become regular platelet donors. “It’s something we share that we can feel good about watching the other do it.” Dennis said.

Dennis added, “For life satisfaction, nothing beats saving a life. The nurses, labs and doctors do all the hard parts. You just have to stay healthy and give the time it takes. Guaranteed you will feel more useful to your community as you walk out after donating.”

It is because of dedicated donors like Dennis, and now his children, that SBC is able to provide blood products to hospitals to treat patients. So if you are able, please make an appointment to donate blood today and start your own legacy.