Maya Shanee

Maya (right) and older sister Shanee chat as Maya prepares for donation

Maya Mali knew exactly how she wanted to celebrate her 16th birthday: Giving blood with 16 of her friends and family members.

“I’ve really wanted to give blood for a long time,” Maya said. “It’s an easy way to help others.”

A family tradition

Helping others is part of the Mali family tradition. The girls grow their hair to donate to cancer patients. And the family seeks out other ways to help, as well.

Parents Alex and Beth Mali and older daughters Shira, 18, and Shanee, 23, all began giving blood over a year ago, when Shira learned from a friend that a single pint of blood could save as many as three lives. Now, the family makes regular trips from their home in Creswell to Lane Blood Center in Eugene to donate. Until recently, Maya has had to wait patiently, too young to donate, but eager to do so.


Maya’s parents, Beth and Alex Mali, in the donation room

“She wanted a fake ID”

“She has been jealous every time we go to give blood,” Beth Mali said. “She told me she wanted a fake ID so she could donate sooner.”

The waiting ended Oct. 9, when Maya, her friends and family gathered in the donation room at the Blood Center. They made their donations together, surrounded by streamers, banners and balloons provided by Lane Blood employees, who always love a birthday celebration. Maya’s sisters had baked her a cake in the shape of a blood drop, “Give Blood” written in red frosting on the sides.

Family friend Ryan Reyna, 23, overcame a serious fear of needles to participate. “I’ve known the Mali family for quite a while,” he said. “They talked me into it.”

A lifetime of giving

Maya Ryan

Shira Mali (far left) speaks with Ryan Reyna as Maya (right) looks on

For Maya, this first donation marks the beginning of a lifetime of giving blood. “I plan to donate every time I’m eligible,” she said.

If you’d like to donate, please call the Lane Blood Center at (541) 484-9111 or make an appointment online.

Author: Rebecca Taylor

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