ARLINGTON — The Carbajal family’s blood drive on Saturday, May 11, had two Puget Sound Blood Center Bloodmobiles bustling in the parking lot of the Arlington Haggen Food and Pharmacy.
Elliot Carbajal was a long-time committed blood donor who died, at the age of 40, five days after a violent assault, when he was taken off life support on his father’s birthday, Dec. 16, 2009. His family donated his organs, and has since promoted the causes of organ and blood donation to memorialize him.
In turn, Elliot Carbajal was honored for his life-giving generosity by Donate Life America, whose “Journeys of the Heart” float included a “flora-graph” of his face during its appearance in the Jan. 1 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
The latest blood drive was an especially bittersweet occasion for the Carbajal family, since it came only 10 days after the passing of Elliot’s father on May 1.
“Dad really wanted to be here today,” said Rachel Carbajal, one of Elliot’s sisters. “He was really proud of what we’d managed to do in Elliot’s name.”
Rachel noted not only the heavy traffic of donors that day, but also the fact that this blood drive marked the first time that the Carbajal family was able to get more donors to reserve their appointments ahead of time than the number of walk-ups.
“We only had to turn away one walk-up because the Bloodmobiles were full,” Rachel Carbajal said. “I want everyone who came to donate to know how much we appreciate them. They’re the ones who make this event a success, not us.”
Linda Carbajal, Elliot’s oldest sister, was not only one of the 24 Carbajal family members who volunteered to help coordinate the blood drive that day, but she was also among the 32 donors in the blood drive’s first two hours, which allowed her to hit her one-gallon blood donation mark in the process.
“I just show up,” said Linda Carbajal, whose AB positive blood type makes her a universal donor. “It’s the rest of the family who works all year round on organizing these blood drives. We’ve even got sponsors and have giveaway baskets now.”
“It’s great to see the community supporting something that benefits them in turn,” said Adam Carbajal, Elliot’s brother. “It’s especially nice that we’ve been doing this so long that we see so many of the same people returning, time after time.”
Gayle Richards, donor and volunteer resources representative for the Puget Sound Blood Center, praised the Carbajal family for their commitment and contributions.
“They’re the best and most passionate people I know,” Richards said. “They believe in saving lives.”