Love at First Pint: Kaye and John's Story
Feb 05, 2020 Katie Rosenblum
It was 1983 and Kaye and John Spilker were enjoying their first date. They had a lovely lunch at a Beverly Hills restaurant before John made an unusual suggestion.
"He said, 'Let's go donate blood,'" remembers Kaye, a retired costume and textiles curator. "I had never really known about donating blood and I just thought, 'OK, this date was worth blood,' so we went after lunch and did it."
"They always need my blood because anyone can receive it. I make double donations and I schedule my donations as soon as I'm eligible again."
It was Kaye's first time donating blood, but it was routine for John. He has been donating blood at the hospital since 1979.
"I was at the hospital when my youngest daughter was born and we got a pitch to donate blood," says John. "I started donating regularly after that."
John, a retired lawyer and professional pianist, has Type O-negative blood, making him a universal donor—and a very hot commodity.
"They always need my blood because anyone can receive it," says John. "I make double donations and I schedule my donations as soon as I'm eligible again."
Since 1983, the couple has donated whole blood hundreds of times, impacting countless patients in need.
Many of the medical and surgical treatments provided at Cedars-Sinai require blood, including organ transplants, heart surgery, and care during major traumas.
Donated blood can only be stored for 6 weeks. It also cannot be manufactured, so the blood supply is entirely reliant on donors like Kaye and John.
"We see it as our civic duty," says Kaye. "It's the kind of thing people really should do, but they don't always understand how serious it is."
Ready to make a blood donation?
Here are some tips on how to prepare:
- Maintain healthy iron levels by eating iron-rich foods [PDF] such as red meat, fish, poultry, beans, spinach, iron-fortified cereals, and raisins.
- Get a good night's sleep.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption before your donation.
- Eat normally and drink extra fluids before and after your donation.
- If you are donating platelets, remember that you cannot take aspirin for 2 days prior to the donation.
- Bring your driver's license or another form of photo ID.