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Caring Couples Make a Date to Donate Platelets

Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region

January 29, 2014

If you would ask most couples about their favorite date activities, you’d likely hear some or all of the following: go to the movies, dine out in a fancy restaurant, attend a concert or take a weekend getaway trip.

For several platelet apheresis donor couples in our service area, add “donate the gift of life.”

As we near Valentine’s Day, we’d like to acknowledge eight married couples who literally “circulate the love” at our platelet donation centers in Altoona, Pa.; Beaver, Pa; Greensburg, Pa; Johnstown, Pa.; and State College, Pa.

Apheresis is a special kind of blood donation that allows you to give just one part of your blood. Platelet apheresis allows you to donate platelets, the tiny cell fragments that help control bleeding. During this type of donation, an apheresis machine collects the platelets and some plasma and returns the red cells and most of the plasma back to the donor.

A single platelet donation can provide enough platelets for a full therapeutic dose for a patient in need. In fact, some platelet donations yield enough platelets for two or three therapeutic doses. By contrast, it takes four to six whole blood donations to produce a single therapeutic dose. Platelet donors may be able to donate up to 24 times in a 12-month period. Click for additional information.


Altoona Donation Center

Mark and Carol Hileman, Hollidaysburg, Pa. Mark has donated blood since 1994; Carol, since 2000. Carol, who transitioned to donating platelets in January 2005, was joined by her husband the following January. Mark, who can donate three platelet doses at each donation, has given 186 donations. Carol, who donates two products each donation, has given 156 platelet donations.


Beaver Donation Center

Milo and Diane Derrow, New Galilee, Pa., Milo first donated blood in 2006; Diane, in 1992. Both converted to donating platelets every other month when they learned they both had good platelet counts in early 2012. They donate blood during the alternating month. The Derrows are pictured at right.


Luke and Jessica Zacherl, Ellwood City, Pa., recently began donating platelets approximately one weekend each month. A painful family experience prompted the couple to donate blood and platelets:

“A few years ago, we lost our nephew in a 4-wheeler accident. We didn’t have a lot of time to grieve though because our other nephew was fighting for his life at the same time from the same accident. While we will always miss Ryan we were grateful for the many donations in those first critical hours that saved Josh so that he is able to be with us still today. We donate so that other families have those opportunities to have a few more days, hours or years with their loved ones. We donate together because we’re both scared of needles but together we’re always stronger.”

The Zacherls are pictured at left.



Greensburg Donation Center

Joseph and Patricia Hobbins, Shelocta, Pa.. Patricia began donating blood in 1995; Joe, in 2006. Both converted from whole blood to platelet donation approximately two years ago. They make a day out of their trip to the donation center, which is about 40 miles away from their home. They stop at IHOP for breakfast before donating platelets approximately one Sunday each month.

Patricia commented, “I myself donate because I've watched a lot of family members suffer with cancer in the past 10 years. I feel that if I can help someone fight this horrible disease or their families I will do what I can.” She and Joe are pictured at left.

Stephen and Toyanna Miller, Greensburg, Pa., donate platelets on alternate Wednesdays, so one of them can usually be found each week at the donation center. He first donated blood in 1996; platelets, in 1997. She first donated blood in 1991; platelets, in 1994. They each have donated more than 200 platelet products.


Johnstown Donation Center

Matthew and Brenda Molnar, Johnstown, Pa. Employed by the Cambria County Transit Authority, they donate platelets every other Wednesday have each provided more than 300 platelet products for patient care. The Molnars are pictured at left.




Russell and Cheryl Wirfel, Mineral Point, Pa. Russ first donated blood in 1990; Cheryl, in 1994. They both have donated platelets since 2009. Russ can donate the equivalent of three platelet doses at each donation; Cheryl, can donate double platelet products. Together they have donated more than 300 platelet products for patient care. The Wirfels are pictured at right.




State College Donation Center

Claudio Frumento and Beverly Crow, State College, Pa. They first donated at a Red Cross blood drive at the Delta Program. Bev recalls, “I was squeamish, Claudio was great! They tested his platelet count and found it was high, so he was asked to donate platelets and did so. I couldn’t even watch. Then one year for a New Year’s resolution I decided to try it at least once, as long as Claudio would be there. So we were scheduled together, and the rest is history. Every other Thursday is our “date night” at the Red Cross platelet donation center in State College.  He’s given more than 250 donations and I’ve given more than 100 but am still squeamish!”