Thousand Oaks man thanks the 26 donors who saved his life from leukemia

WESTWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The staff at the UCLA Blood and Platelet Center helped one local man thank each and every blood donor who helped save his life.

The goal of this annual luncheon is to show firsthand how blood donation makes a difference.

One by one, 39-year-old Tyler Bacon, of Thousand Oaks, greeted the blood and platelet donors who helped him beat Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

It took 26 people to save his life.

"Because you showed up and donated, my parents still have a son, my children have a dad, my wife has a husband. There's not enough gratitude in the world to say thank you," Bacon said.

Two years ago, Bacon went to the emergency room at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center with a fever and a dental infection that wouldn't heal.

He documented his journey on Facebook.

His older brother was a bone marrow match, but like other patients, Bacon had to depend on bags of blood to survive following the surgery.

Dr. Gary Schiller, a professor of hematology-oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and researcher at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, described the need.

"Red blood cells from donors when you don't make red cells carry oxygen and platelets from donors when you donate platelets to prevent you from having life-threatening hemorrhage," he said.

Julia Pier, of Thousand Oaks, answered the call.

"It made me realize, I can do more to help people than just write a check occasionally," she said. "I can actually do something that you can't buy with money."

The biggest excuse for not donating blood is "I don't have the time," or "it's too inconvenient."

But doctors remind us nothing is more inconvenient than having a life-threatening condition.

"It was you know, a couple hours of my day that could potentially save his life," one of Bacon's platelet donors, Talena Williamson, said.

Williamson learned platelets are something that you can donate more often than blood and it's in constant need.

"It's nice to see people coming together to help everyone," she said.

"I think it's something to teach my children. Just because you don't get something back, doesn't mean you shouldn't be doing it. You do things because it's the right thing to do," Bacon said.
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