Skip to main content

MB News

Blood Drive Honors Memory of Manhattan Beach Teen

May 08, 2021 08:45AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Gavin Kim. Photo credit: Zachary Chien.

The Kim family of Manhattan Beach is hosting a blood drive to benefit the Children's Hospital of L.A. in honor of their son and brother Gavin Kim, who passed away last year.

The blood drive - to be held at the Joslyn Community Center on May 12 and 13 - is being led by Gavin's sisters, Natalie, 16, and Coco, 14, in honor of what would have been Gavin's 18th birthday.

"We were inspired to do a blood drive because we wanted to do something that would be good for the world and would help us honor our brother at the same time," said Coco Kim. "A lot of hospital patients need blood, just like our brother needed a lot of blood."

The idea of a blood drive is particularly fitting as a way to honor Gavin, who had an incredibly giving spirit, said his father, Kirk Kim.

"One attitude Gavin had was that he always wanted to help others even when he was sick - and I think that's what makes this blood drive so appropriate for him," said Kirk. "Even when he was in the hospital at Christmas, he wanted to make sure all of the other patients had gifts."

All of the blood drive appointment slots are currently filled, according to Gavin's mother Michelle Kim. However, she noted, given that some COVID-19 capacity restrictions have been lifted, the blood drive may be able to accommodate more people than previously planned. Furthermore, since there are always no-shows and people who register for the blood drive but do not qualify, the family is welcoming walk-ins.

The blood drive will run from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. Donors must be at least 17 years old and weigh at least 120 pounds, or 18 years or older with a minimum weight of 110 pounds; and have a valid ID. 

A Beloved Brother, Son, and Friend

Gavin Kim was an active, friendly, and much-loved member of the Kim family and the Manhattan Beach community. A student at Mira Costa High School, he loved ice hockey, biking, skiing, traveling, adventuring, and hanging out with his friends.

He was born with a heart defect and endured multiple surgeries throughout his life. He went into the hospital in November 2019 for open heart surgery. However, he developed complications that led to two more open heart surgeries, and tragically, he passed away in March 2020.

The timing of his passing, just before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, made it difficult for family and friends to come together to honor him.

However, over the past year, the family was able to dedicate a bench to Gavin on the Greenbelt at 2nd and Ardmore.

"I just would like people to remember that he was always very happy, and he always had a good attitude about everything," said his sister Natalie. "He never complained about about being sick, or about not being able to do the same kinds of things that we could do."

His spirit is also kept alive through memories that his family and friends have shared online.

Among his many friends were the Chaikovsky twins, AJ and JJ, who considered themselves "triplets" with Gavin.

"I've always called you my triplet because we'd stick together no matter what. Your strength and spirit were so admirable and everyone knows you had one of the best laughs ever," wrote AJ in a tribute to Gavin. "The positivity and joy you brought to the world truly made it a better place."

Blood Drive a Fitting Tribute

While at the hospital, Gavin needed a great deal of blood and blood components, including plasma and platelets.

In fact, according to Children's Hospital L.A., its patients need approximately 2,000 units of blood and blood components each month as part of the life-saving care provided at the hospital. Platelets, the blood component necessary for clotting, are especially needed for children undergoing bone marrow transplant therapy or chemotherapy, and are the most frequently used blood component at the hospital.

To provide all of the necessary units of blood, the hospital needs to collect blood from approximately 800 donors per month. Nearly 90 percent of the blood transfused at Children's Hospital Los Angeles comes from its donor center - and rarely is enough blood donated to cover patient use.

When the Kim sisters came up with the idea for the blood drive, Natalie, who is a junior ambassador for CHLA, reached out to the blood drive coordinator at the hospital to figure out how to set up an event. The CHLA team helped her set up a web site and create a poster.

Back in Manhattan Beach, the family had previously worked with Manhattan Beach Director of Parks and Recreation Mark Leyman to dedicate the bench on the Greenbelt. So Natalie again reached out to Leyman, who helped her work with the city to establish the blood donation site at the Joslyn Center.

Again, the appointments are currently filled for May 12 and 13, but drop-ins are welcome. To donate blood to CHLA at another time, visit

Subscribe to MB News Emails * Don't Miss a Thing, Sign Up Today!

* indicates required
Email Format

Subscribe to MB News Emails * Don't Miss a Thing, Sign Up Today!

* indicates required
Email Format