Tanner, a Brentwood resident who is currently awaiting a heart and kidney transplant, got to know the Jenkins family when the two families were at UCSF together over the summer. Aaron has since been moved to UCLA Medical Center, where he is at the top of the donor list to receive the double transplant surgery, and Ally came home last month following her successful surgery.
“When I was in the hospital I met Aaron, and it was just amazing to me that someone who lives so close to me was just three rooms down from me in the hospital,” said Ally. “Every day I asked my parents how he was doing, and on my walks around the unit, I always made sure to pass by his room and give a wave or a smile. He is the cutest little boy ever.”
Elizabeth Tanner, Aaron’s mom, said Ally’s daily rounds past Aaron’s hospital room were a huge support to them all: “Every time Ally walked by we would blow each other kisses and wave. She is such a sweetheart; a beautiful girl, and we’ve all bonded since Day One. I can’t wait to see what Aaron and Ally end up doing: something special and amazing, I know.”
The relationship between the two families has continued to flourish even now that Ally’s home, and this weekend she is partnering with the American Red Cross to sponsor a blood drive at the Diamond Hills Sports Club in Oakley. The event will be held Saturday, Dec. 19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donate Life California will also be on hand to answer questions about organ and tissue donation.
“This cause is very important to me,” said Ally. “I know that without people donating their blood and organs, I would not be alive today. I want to do for Aaron and his family what the community has done for me, and I encourage everyone to surround this family and support them as everyone had done for me.”
Ally expects to be on hand at this weekend’s event despite an earlier hospital stay this week, when she was treated for a mild case of pneumonia.
“We are so grateful we caught it in time,” said Vickee Jenkins, Ally’s mom. “Respiratory issues can be very serious for lung transplant patients. But her fever has broken and she is responding quickly to the antibiotics and eating well. This is just a short ‘tune-up’ visit.”
In the meantime, Elizabeth said that the wait for Aaron’s surgery might be over before Christmas.
“I just found out that Aaron is the very next patient in line for the surgery,” said Elizabeth in a phone call to the Press earlier this week. “And it is very, very likely it will be in the next week or so. We’re positive and upbeat and ready for this (surgery). It will, of course, be frightening, but this is what we’re here (in Los Angeles) for. It’s what we’ve been working toward. It would be a wonderful Christmas present to have this behind us.”
To schedule an appointment to give blood on the Dec. 19 event, log on to www.helpsavealife.org, sponsor code: Diamond925, or call 800-GIVE LIFE.