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How to Save a Life: Carl's Journey from Platelet Donor to Recipient with an Unbelievable Plot Twist

On April 15, 2001, at 4:15 pm, Carl was at a four-way stop on his motorcycle and next in line to go. 

As he went for it, so did an 18-wheeler.

"When I woke up, one of the boots I was wearing was next to my head," said Carl.  It was Easter Sunday. 

Fortunately, Carl’s bad luck would end at the accident scene. While at the hospital, he learned his leg would likely need to be amputated. But if there was ever a moment for a "right time, right place" scenario to play out, it was then. And it did. 

It just so happened that a visiting surgeon who lectured at the hospital had a workaround that allowed them to save his leg.

Carl-Stix_Platelet-Recipient_Leg-Scar.jpg"First thing I did when I woke up from surgery is I looked down and noticed there were still two lumps there. I was like, OK! I guess they saved my leg," said Carl. Look at the size of his scar!

While at the hospital, Carl also needed a platelet transfusion.

Since he's a regular donor, he asked the hospital for the names of the donors, hoping to tell them "thank you" for saving his life and leg. But the hospital said it couldn't release that information.

"They said unfortunately, they couldn't give the information out. Probably about 10 minutes later they called me back on my cell phone and they said 'we can tell you one of the donors – It was you' And I was like, huh?"

It turns out that Carl was also at the right place and at the right time—three days earlier. He donated platelets at United Blood Services (now Vitalant), and in an incredible twist of fate, he ended up helping save his own life.

He was even in the right place at the right time in 1978 when he was 16. His mother, an avid donor, had issues with her iron level one day, preventing her from donating. She then gave consent to Carl to donate. He's never stopped. Twenty-four times a year, he donates platelets.

"It's a very easy way to give back to my community, and it costs me nothing other than time. It allows me to really make a difference," said Carl.

One of our slogans here at Vitalant is "You Are Vital." Let Carl be the proof that it's not just a catchphrase. It's the truth.