Danny Lucas blood drive nets 80 units of blood, almost half of which came from first-time donors

About 100 local residents turn out to honor Watsonville fire captain

Photo of Danny Lucas and his family.

Danny Lucas was joined at last Friday’s blood drive by his sons, Danny Jr. (left) and Chad (right) and by his wife, Cindi. For more photos of this very special drive, please go to this album. For a video clip of blood donor Hilary Weaver, please go here. (Photo: Virginia and Albert Becker)

Some of the blood donors who flocked to a Red Cross blood drive in Watsonville last Friday are regular donors at the once-a-month blood drive at the Pajaro Valley Health Trust. But, on this particular day, at this particular drive, it was clear that many more came out of respect for a local resident who has given so much to his community during a 35-year career with the Watsonville Fire Department.

“When I read the story about Danny Lucas’ accident and this drive in his honor, I immediately made an appointment,” said Hilary Weaver, a Santa Cruz resident who worked alongside Lucas during her dozen years as a paramedic in the Watsonville area.

“Danny’s the kind of person who would do anything he could do to help others,” she added. “The least I could do was to be here at this blood drive.”

In late November, Lucas was critically injured in a Montana hunting accident when a stray bullet tore through the large femoral artery of his left leg, shattering the femur bone just above his kneecap. Jumping to his aid, family members applied an emergency tourniquet and helped transport Lucas to the nearest hospital two hours away.

Lucas was hospitalized for 41 days, during which he received 24 units of blood. As a result of blood loss and nerve damage, the lower half of his left leg was amputated. But Lucas survived — and received a warm welcome from family, friends, and co-workers at Watsonville Airport in late December after a friend flew him home from Montana.

A committed blood donor himself, Lucas estimates that he has donated a total of 64 units of blood. Grateful for the people who donated the blood that saved his own life, Lucas decided to work closely with the Central Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross to promote the February 21 drive.

The collaboration was tremendously successful, as Red Cross workers collected a total of 80 units at just that single drive.

“I’m speechless, as the turnout at this drive is extraordinary,” said Justin Mueller, Regional Executive for Blood Donor Services, who drove from Oakland to Watsonville to help out. “We’re here every month for this drive, and it is considered very successful if we have 30 blood donors. Today, we had 30 donors show up in the first 15 minutes.”

“This says so much about Danny,” added Michele Averill, CEO of the Central Coast Chapter, who also attended. “Even though he’s still dealing with his own recovery, Danny lent his name, time, and charitable spirit to the Red Cross’ ongoing effort to collect blood. Blood donations saved Danny in Montana, and the many, many donations he helped us collect at today’s drive will help save others.”

The need for blood is not exaggerated, Mueller said. “Every two seconds, somewhere in our country, someone has a need for blood. That’s what’s so gratifying about today.”

Both Mueller and Averill were especially moved by the fact that more than 40 percent of the people who came to Friday’s blood drive were first-time donors who — they hope — will give again.

Weaver was one such person. “Today I came to honor Danny, but I ended up having a great experience giving. I am absolutely going to give blood again … soon.”

Nancy Carroll of Watsonville was another first-time donor. “This was the first time I’ve given blood in 50 years,” she said, remembering that she had tried once before — and felt light-headed — when she was very young. But on Friday, she made her blood donation without a hitch — and felt great doing it. “I was able to fill the bag in 4 minutes and 23 seconds,” she said proudly. “I will definitely give again.”

For Carroll, Weaver, and the approximately 100 other people who showed up for an appointment or just “walked-in” last Friday, their day was made special by one other element of the drive — the presence of Danny himself.

Not content to just promote the drive, Lucas attended it. Along with his wife (Cindi) and their two sons (Danny Jr. and Chad), who all donated on Friday, the fire captain made a special effort to thank as many of the attendees as possible.

“I am so grateful that we got that many people to come on Friday,” Lucas said this week. “I was really touched by the spirit of the day, and I was thrilled that so many first-time blood donors came. Now we just have to encourage them to become regular donors.”


You too can make a lifesaving blood donation: Donors of all blood types are urged to make an appointment to give blood by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Join “Danny’s Heroes” team: People who donated blood last Friday — or who want to donate blood in the future — can continue to honor Danny by joining the “Danny’s Heroes” team in the Red Cross Blood Donor App. If you don’t have the app installed, you can download it using this link. Once the app is open, just follow these instructions to join the team: Click on Impact on the bottom right of your screen; at the top of the screen, click My Team; click Create or Join a Team on the center of the screen; type the team name in the Enter Team Name field; a message asking you to confirm you want to become a member of the team will appear; then join. As a team member, there are two options to invite others on the My Team tab. Click Recruit Others or Invite More to your team. You can send a pre-written text or email message inviting others to your team.