Decades of Donating blood drive kicks off tomorrow at WFTV

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Tomorrow WFTV will kick off our annual blood drive called Decades of Donating in honor of the 30 years of blood drives at our studios.

Thousands of gallons have been donated over the years, and it wasn't just used to help trauma or surgery patients. It used to be called Blood Brotherhood Day, and while the name, the hairstyles and the studio have  changed, one thing remains the same: the need for donors to give the gift of life.

Over the 30 years, thousands of people have been helped by donations, including 14-year-old cancer patient Karli Leonard.

"Blood is not just for trauma patients; it's for people that are sick and that are getting chemicals in their body that make them lose blood," said Karli.

She was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. She received multiple blood and platelet transfusions in her 100 days in Arnold Palmer Hospital.

"People don't know that blood can make a cancer patient feel not so, like, icky feeling," said Karli.

The transfusions also allowed doctors to continue chemotherapy by bringing her blood levels up to a safe level. She saw many of her sick friends at Arnold Palmer receive blood and feel better.

"Within that hour or so, you come out of a transfusion feeling like a hundred bucks, or a million," said Karli.

Now Karli and her father, a manager in the hospitality industry, are on a crusade to spread the word about the need for blood for all sorts of patients -- injured, sick or otherwise.

"I feel like I'm really giving back to the community more now than I ever felt in my entire hospitality career," said Jay Leonard.

Karli knows firsthand how your blood not only saves lives, it restores hope.

"Now I feel healthy and happy and normal," said Karli.

You can donate tomorrow starting at 7 a.m. at the WFTV and WRDQ studies on South Street in Downtown Orlando.  For more information, click here.

Just one pint of blood can save three lives.