Platelet donors get a look at the lives they help save

Platelet donors get a look at the lives they help save

Amarillo, TX - When you donate blood, most of the time, you never meet the person whose life you've changed.

"I'm a two-time cancer survivor.  Once for breast cancer in 2002, and leukemia in 2005.  Throughout my treatment for leukemia I received 117 units of blood and platelets," cancer survivor Gail Stowers said.

The Coffee Memorial Blood Center put this video together to show what it takes to save a life.  77 people came to the aid of Gail Stowers, giving blood and platelets she needed in order to survive.

"Platelets are actually the first part of the clotting process.  Without platelets the blood will never clot the bleeding will just continue," Joe McCormick, CEO and President of Coffee Memorial Blood Center said.

We know from national statistics that about 38 percent of the population in this country is eligible to donate blood, but less than five percent of them actually do.

People like 77-year-old Al Whitney have answered that call.

"Back in 1965, I was in downtown Cleveland and I saw a sign that said 'Donate blood,' and I walked in and donated blood.  And when I walked out, I said 'Al, you can do more than this,'" Whitney said.

And since then he has. Whitney started hosting blood drives until he retired in 2000.  He continued donating platelets, and started a Web site called "Platelets Across America."

He travels the country stopping in every state to donate.  This week, he was in Amarillo to donate and to share his stories.

"When I travel, I do not sight-see, but my wife made me promise to go to Mount Rushmore.  And I went and visited Mount Rushmore.  It was a chilly day, and I wore a denim jacket with my logo, and I'm standing, talking to a clerk in a souvenir shop, and a woman pushes between us, literally pushes, and threw her arms around me, and said 'Thank you.  Because of you, I'm alive today,' so that was rather emotional," Whitney said.

Whitney's message is simple - we can do more.  And for people like Gail Stowers, those that are doing more are truly heroes.

To find out how you can donate and make a difference, call: (806) 358-4563.