Blood Drive Dedicated to Employee Battling Leukemia

CAO Walt Ekard donates blood while talking to Juan Olmeda, an employee who received blood during leukemia treatments.

County employee Juan Olmeda has always encouraged employees to donate blood in his role as a blood drive coordinator, organizing events at more than 100 County sites over the past four years. Now he knows firsthand the impact it can have on someone’s life, after receiving donated blood during his treatment for leukemia.

“I have always told people it is important, but now I feel very lucky, very blessed, because of what has happened to me,” said Olmeda.

Olmeda is a border health assistant with the Health and Human Services Agency. He was diagnosed with leukemia in November. He will again need blood transfusions when he has a bone marrow transplant later this year. The County’s 26th annual blood drive is dedicated to Olmeda, and he helped kick off the event by greeting donors and handing out refreshments at the County Administration Center.

Supervisor Greg Cox was the first to roll up his sleeve. He is a lifelong donor who has made more than 120 donations over the years.

“This has always been a very special event. We are able to help save lives in our community, including one of our own employees who uses blood as part of his treatment,” said Supervisor Greg Cox, District 1.

Walt Ekard joined dozens of other employees on the first day of the month-long County blood drive. It will take place at 24 sites throughout the County in April. Click here for details about the event, including dates,  locations and appointments.

The County blood drive is one of the San Diego Blood Bank’s largest and most successful collection events. Employees donated 600 pints at last year’s event, and organizers hope to surpass that number this year.