Carbajal memorial blood drive helps others

ARLINGTON — Elliot Carbajal’s family didn’t realize how committed he was to donating blood until he had passed on, and they’ve pledged to carry on his work for others.

The Arlington native died not long after turning 40, and according to brother Butch Carbajal, Elliot had donated blood for more than 20 years. Since his death, the rest of the Carbajal clan has conducted what’s become an annual donation drive on behalf of the Puget Sound Blood Center, which was supported by ServPro of Marysville and Smokey Point this year.

“Elliot was a multi-gallon blood donor,” said Ken Carbajal, one of the other remaining 15 Carbajal siblings, after his own blood donation in the parking lot of the Arlington City Hall on April 30. “Ever since he’d had open-heart surgery, he felt it was his duty to donate, because he had someone else’s blood inside of him.”

“This was his town,” said Butch Carbajal, who noted that Elliot was the seventh of the 16 siblings. “He made us aware of the need for blood donation.”

Joyce Phillips Carbajal explained that each donated unit of whole blood is separated into its components of red blood cells, plasma and platelets, each of which can be used to treat separate patients.

“Elliot was onto a good thing here,” Joyce Phillips Carbajal said. “We just didn’t realize it until he was gone.”

Some donors, such as Arlington’s Stephen Nicholson, simply decided to roll up their sleeves on the spur of the moment after seeing the two blood donation vehicles in the City Hall parking lot. Other donors, such as fellow Arlington residents Kristina Faller and Andrea Summers, were friends of the Carbajal family who had already planned to give of themselves to pay tribute to Elliot. Many were already habitual blood donors, but Gayle Richards of the Puget Sound Blood Center reported that the event recruited 36 first-time donors.

“We ended up registering a total of 73 donors, collecting 58 pints of blood,” Richards said. “This was truly an amazing turnout. Because one pint of blood can save up to three lives, this blood drive will help the lives of up to 174 patients in hospitals throughout western Washington.”

Both Richards and Joyce Phillips Carbajal are already planning for the third annual blood donation drive in Elliot’s memory next year.

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