‘We’re Like a Family’: Meet Platelet Donor Lorna Badame

December 20, 2017 | by Maxine Nunes

Meet Platelet Donor Lorna Badame | City of Hope Lorna Badame with her husband, Peter, who recently passed away.
Lorna Badame would probably be the last person to tell you she’s extraordinary, but what else would you call a woman who — over the last quarter of a century — has made more than 420 platelet donations to City of Hope.

The 68-year-old mother of three and grandmother makes the trip to the Blood Donor Center every two weeks because she knows how vital platelet donations are. But she also has a great time when she’s there.

“We’re like a family. It’s just a good feeling all the way around, with good cheerful people. No one’s a Gloomy Gus.”

She enjoys the whole staff, but her favorite might be a nurse named Rudy. “He’s a jovial guy and he gets you in a good mood real fast. And whenever somebody comes in on their birthday he sings ‘Happy Birthday’ - off key!”

Badame has a gift for embracing the bright side of life, despite some of the tough times she’s faced. And like many people who donate platelets, she knows firsthand how important each contribution is, because someone she loves once depended on them.

In the late 1980s, just before her daughter Cyndi’s 16th birthday, the teenager’s knees began to ache and she felt tired all the time. Their doctor thought it might be arthritis, which runs in the family, but when her tests came back the results were devastating. Acute lymphocytic leukemia.

“At first I went numb,” Badame recalled. “Then that night, after leaving her in the hospital, I went into another room and just cried and cried.”

Fortunately, by the end of the third week of treatment, Cyndi was in remission — though she would still have to undergo two years of chemotherapy.

We lucked out on that one,” Badame said. “The doctor told us that particular form of leukemia spreads so fast, if we’d brought her in a week earlier, they might not have caught it, and a week later might have been too late.”

But even when she tells the story of that dark time, Badame manages to make it entertaining.

Cyndi was still in the hospital when her boyfriend’s senior prom came around, and she really wanted to go. The nurses decided to let her leave for just those few hours — but she had to stay hooked up to her IV until it was time to go.

“You see things, you don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” said Badame. “Here she was walking up and down the hallways, pushing her IV pole — in full gown, hair done up, and all her makeup!”

This past year was another challenging one for Badame. Weeks before their 49th anniversary, Badame’s husband, Peter, passed away. Yet as difficult as widowhood can be, she was quick to relate one unexpected and joyful consequence.

After Peter died, their daughter Cyndi’s old high school boyfriend phoned to give his condolences. They talked for hours on end for several nights and had such a great time, he sent her plane fare to visit him in Idaho.

“The first week, Cyndi called her mom to say they were having so much fun, she was going to stay another week. At the end of that week, she came home — married!” Badame said, capping the story with an infectious laugh.

Peter had always driven Badame to the City of Hope Blood Donor Center, but she now goes with her daughter Catherine, who’s also become a donor.

Among the many things Badame loves about the center is the way they celebrate donor milestones. Like the day she made her 400th donation.

“They know I’m a chocoholic, so they surprised me with a cake — chocolate with chocolate frosting,” she said. And laughed with the delight at the memory.

To make an appointment to donate blood or platelets, call 626-218-7171 or go online at iDonateBlood4Hope.org.


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