Friday, January 13, 2012


I’m not in the habit of phoning men I don’t know and inviting them out for drinks, but after reading about Dave Claflin in the local paper years ago, I did just that. “You don’t know me,” I said to Dave, “but we need to have a margarita, dude.”

We met at a Mexican restaurant here in Boulder, where we swapped details about our respective needs for massive blood transfusions.  I’d heard quite a few blood recipient stories at that point in my advocacy work, but Dave’s story blew my mind. 

Just as he was about to walk his five-year-old triplet daughters to kindergarten one morning, Dave felt a sudden wave of nausea, which he assumed was food poisoning.  When the feeling didn’t pass after a few days, he assumed it was the flu.  New to Boulder, Dave hadn’t yet secured a family doctor, so when his symptoms persisted for six days straight he went to the hospital’s emergency room hoping to get some medication to treat his “flu.”

Following protocol, the ER professionals made Dave don one of those rather homely hospital gowns and ran him through a number of tests. While waiting for each of the test results, Dave began to feel more and more anxious about pulling precious resources away from people who were “really sick.” The ER was busy that day and Dave decided to leave so that others could get the care they needed. He began to dress himself, but—fortunately—someone had inadvertently taken his pants from the room. And so, he stayed. 
The next time a doctor entered his room, it was with a greater sense of urgency and concern.  What Dave thought to be the flu was actually his aorta—yeah, that fairly important main artery of the body—in the process of tearing! Suddenly, things kicked into high gear as Dave was wheeled into a 16-hour emergency open-heart surgery—the first of four that Dave would undergo during the next three days. The aortic tear was so large, Dave’s blood vessels leaked fluid into his chest cavity, causing his heart to stop numerous times. Needless to say, massive amounts of blood were transfused throughout—125 pints to be exact.

If you met Dave today, you’d look at this athletic 40-something guy, who still cycles and rock climbs, and you’d say one word: remarkable.  It’s remarkable that this man is still alive, and yes—like many of us “second chancers”—out there spreading the word about blood donation. It’s remarkable that Dave got to the hospital in time. It’s remarkable that his pants mysteriously disappeared, preventing him from walking to his likely death in the hospital parking lot or on his drive back home. It’s remarkable that medical advancements are such that an aortic aneurysm wasn’t a death sentence. It’s remarkable that there are people who care enough about others that they’ll take the time (and the needle) to—literally—give a bit of themselves away.

But as someone whose father bled to death when she was in kindergarten, the most remarkable thing to me about Dave’s story is this: because of the collective efforts of every person involved in the blood donation and transfusion process, there are three little girls—now feisty teenagers—who know what it’s like to grow up with their dad. Soccer games, back-to-school nights, first dates.


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Lauren's book, Zuzu's Petals: A True Story of Second Chances (In The Telling Press, 2011), was the #1 Top Rated memoir on Kindle for 7 straight months. Hardcover copies are available at, or signed copies can be ordered at Happy Reading!

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