The Agoura High School freshman has been working to organize a blood drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat., June 2 at the Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center.
Matt, 15, said he wanted to have a blood drive to benefit Cedars Sinai Medical Center, which will be staffing the event.
“At a young age my sister was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis,” Matt said. “She needed many treatments for many years, all through Cedars-Sinai. I just wanted to give back to the hospital for everything they’ve done for my family. Last summer, after three major surgeries, she got rid of the disease.”
He said his sister Amanda, a senior at Agoura High, is ecstatic about the idea and is eager to donate, as she would like to do what she can for the medical center as well. This is the first event Matt has organized. He previously donated money to the hospital and ran in a race to raise money. He said it helped but it wasn’t enough. In February he had the idea to organize a blood drive.
“I contacted Cedars-Sinai and got their permission. And then, because I live near the community center, I decided that I’d do something I’m very familiar with,” Matt said. “We go there all the time to go to the gym and play basketball. I contacted them, and they were on board as well. I got their approval, gave them the information, and we set it up together.”
He waited until the plans were certain before telling his family. He said they didn’t believe him until he showed them emails and paperwork that proved it.
He’d been working with David Keyes, Cedar-Sinai’s blood donor facility coordinator, to put the event together.
Keyes said that for an event this size the hospital sends a team of 10 nurses and phlebotomists to draw blood.
“We provide free blood pressure screenings. People get kind of a checkup before they donate,” Keyes said. “It’s a really neat thing because people can find out their blood type, and that doesn’t cost any money.”
Matt, who is on Agoura High’s junior varsity football team, has been asking teammates, coaches, friends and teachers to spread the word.
Matt himself is too young to give blood. In California, 16- and 17-year-olds can donate with a parent’s permission. He said if he were old enough he wouldn’t hesitate, but he’ll be happy if people show up for the event.
“I want as much of a turnout as I can get. I know that obviously, since I’m younger and most of my friends are younger, I’m going to have a little bit of a harder time,” he said. “I’m hoping that just by spreading the word out through them, maybe an adult or their parents will pick up on it, maybe teachers telling their friends. Just getting the word spread around, I know that parents are going to hear about it, and many of-age people will hear about it.”
Matt said anyone interested in giving blood can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to register for the event.