Bob Williams, Ph.D., attributed his regular platelet donation appointments to the stars. “I am a Virgo; we like routines,” he said jokingly.
Though said in jest, the comment holds some truth; Williams has kept regular appointments to donate platelets at City of Hope for nearly two decades. The 79-year-old recently made his 400th donation.
Williams’ initial calling as a platelet donor came at a dire time in his life; his daughter, Karen, was under treatment for a blood cancer at City of Hope. He learned about cancer patients’ need for blood products and offered his own.
Bob Williams has made platelet donations a habit for almost 20 years. (Photo by Thomas Brown)
While Karen did not survive, Williams was so moved both by the care his daughter received at City of Hope and by cancer patients’ continual need for platelets that he continued making the twice-a-month commute from his Canoga Park, Calif., home for his standing appointment with the Blood Donor Center.
“It’s an incredibly simple process that can save a life,” he said.
To give platelets, the donor undergoes a process called apheresis. In this procedure, a machine draws blood from the donor and separates specific blood components. In platelet donations, the platelets are filtered out and collected while the other components are returned to the donor. The procedure typically takes 90 minutes to two hours.
When Williams arrived for his 400th visit in April, the Blood Donor Center staff threw a surprise party commemorating his commitment.
“Dr. Bob is one of our most faithful platelet donors,” said Kasie Uyeno, recruitment manager for the Blood Donor Center. “Our need for platelets is continuous, and for Dr. Bob to continue to donate so long after his daughter’s need has ended is truly an inspiration to us all.”
And though Williams’ age is advancing, he said he intends to continue donating platelets as long as he is able to.
“I am looking forward to making my 500th donation,” he said.
For more information about blood or platelet donation, or to make an appointment to donate, call the Blood Donor Center at 626-471-7171 or visit www.iDonateBlood4Hope.org.