Brandon’s story

“Please Help Me:” Combined Efforts of Surgery, Blood Donation & Rehab at UCLA

Brandon Levine, 40, had just purchased his dream motorcycle. A few days later, that dream turned into a nightmare when he lost control of his bike and crashed headfirst into a guardrail. The impact of the crash was so severe, it cut off the major vessels that carried blood to and from Brandon’s heart.

Within minutes, Brandon went from a man enjoying the open road to one fighting for his life. As his UCLA team wheeled him into surgery, Brandon turned to Barbara Van de Wiele, MD, his anesthesiologist, and pleaded “Please help me.” Dr. Van de Wiele kept these words in her head during Brandon’s eight-hour operation. As the doctors worked to save his life, they transfused 100 units of blood. Thanks to the efforts of his surgical team and the many blood donors, the surgery was a success. Brandon then spent eight months in rehabilitation at UCLA.

Blood Donors: Unsung Heroes of the Medical World

During the course of his treatment, Brandon received a total of 207 units of blood. These units came from many anonymous donors who took time out of their busy schedules to donate blood and keep the hospital’s blood bank full. In most cases, the blood donor does not know where the donated blood goes, and the blood recipient does not know where the transfused blood comes from. However, UCLA provided Brandon with a unique opportunity: to meet and thank the very blood donors—196 of them!—who saved his life.

Thanking a Blood Donor

The evening was a success, with Brandon personally shaking hands and saying a few words of thanks to each of his selfless blood donors. Alyssa Ziman, MD, medical director of the UCLA Blood & Platelet Center, said “It’s a wonderful opportunity for donors who donate altruistically and confidentially to get to see where their blood donations actually went.”

Matthew Lee, a UCLA blood donor noted that “It’s very gratifying to actually meet the person you’re directly helping.”

Donate Blood Today: Every Unit Counts

To Brandon’s mother, it’s a simple truth. Blood donors are the reason her son is alive today. Brandon—talking, smiling, walking around—is the end result of those generous donors.

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center’s emergency department is Level I Trauma Center, treating a high volume of emergency and trauma patients. In addition, physicians perform 1,000 organ transplants each year and provide an untold number of cancer therapies. Each of these treatments requires the efforts of blood donors. As Brandon said, “A part of all of you is inside of me. That’s the reason why I’m standing here today.”

Donate Today. Call (310) 825-0888.

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