Derek Ross was a fit 24-year-old marathon runner when the diagnosis came.
Bruises, bleeding gums and non-healing wounds led him to consult with a doctor in April 2000, who diagnosed acute promyelocytic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
Treatment began immediately and involved more than 20 transfusions of whole blood and platelets. Within six months, he was in remission. A stem cell transplant in January 2001 boosted his recovery.
Before his diagnosis, Derek had donated blood a couple of times. It was just something good to do. “I never thought about it ever affecting me,” he said.
Now 38, Derek assumed he was ineligible to donate blood. But a recent call to Lane Blood Center revealed that eligibility protocols have changed in the past 14 years and he can give back to the system that helped return him to health.
When the bloodmobile made a stop at Emerald People’s Utility District, where Derek works in customer service, he leapt at the chance to donate.
“It means a lot to me, for two reasons,” Derek said. “First, I’m giving back, and second, to me it means I’m really ‘cured’ — I can give blood again.”