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Blood Drive to Honor Memory of Manhattan Beach's Gavin Kim

May 09, 2023 07:47AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Gavin Kim, left; and his mother and sisters at the annual blood drive honoring their son and brother.

The Kim family of Manhattan Beach is hosting their third annual blood drive to benefit the Children's Hospital of L.A. in honor of their son and brother Gavin Kim, who passed away in 2020.

Gavin's 20th birthday would have been today, May 9.

The blood drive will be held on Thursday, June 1, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Manhattan Beach Fire Station #1, 400 15th St. in Manhattan Beach. To schedule an appointment, click here, or call 323-361-2441.

A Beloved Brother, Son, and Friend

(Gavin Kim - Photo via Kim family)


Gavin Kim was an active, friendly, and much-loved member of the Kim family (which includes sisters Natalie and Coco and parents Kirk and Michelle Kim) 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.

Gavin 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, in 2021 his sisters organized a memorial blood drive - a fitting tribute, given that while he was at the hospital, he needed a great deal of blood and blood components. The blood drive has since become an annual tradition for the Kim family.

"He was a kind person who touched everyone he met," said his sister Natalie. "As someone who was always willing to give even when he was in the hospital, he always wanted to give to others. Donating blood honors his memory because it is a selfless donation that he would have given if he could have."

"It’s really important for people to donate blood because it saves lives and there is so much need for it in hospitals where some people are fighting for their lives," agreed his sister Coco. "I think people underestimate how important it is that there is enough blood, and even if it seems like a hassle or you’re scared of needles, you can change people's lives by donating."

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.

At the June 1 blood drive, walk-ins are also welcome, because many potential donors may be turned away for various reasons.

An Unforgettable Friend

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

Reached earlier this week, the twins said they still hold memories of Gavin close to their hearts. 

"The thing that stuck out to me the most about him was that despite his condition, he was so bright and happy," said AJ. "He had the biggest smile and the best laugh."

JJ concurred: "He never failed to lighten the mood, brighten the room, or make any situation better. He had this charisma to him that everyone needs in their life. He managed to make me immediately see things in a brighter way."

JJ remembered that the boys loved to play video games together. "It was kind of funny; no matter whether you won or lost, it was always a good time," he said. "I’m a sports person, and I was really competitive, but even losing to him I always had fun."

JJ added that the twins met Gavin in kindergarten at Robinson Elementary and one of their earliest memories was coming home with Gavin after school. "He was like, five years old, and he made us all quesadillas using a panini maker. They were as good as Chipotle," he said, with a laugh. "I remember it like it was yesterday. It's hard to forget someone like that. "

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