All of the staff members at the American Red Cross Blood Donation Center in West Chester, Pa. look forward to seeing Kevin Keller, who comes in to donate platelets every two to three weeks. Keller, a Downingtown, Pa. resident, always has a contagious smile on his face and a funny comment to make everyone laugh.
Kevin’s employer, Handi-Crafters, Inc., has taken special notice of his commitment to helping save lives. Handi-Crafters runs one of the largest employment and disability focused support service programs in Southeast Pennsylvania.
“Kevin started out by giving whole blood with the Red Cross in 2014 and then later switched to donating platelets once he learned about the need and the donation requirements,” said April Ennis-Pierson, development director at Handi-Crafters, Inc. “He is very focused on his job, but once you get to know him you quickly discover that he is a very caring individual who gives back with honor and deep sincerity for others.”
Being a platelet donor is so important to Keller that he has made a pledge to give regularly and wants to encourage new and previous donors to do so as well.
“When my mother and father passed away after battling cancer, I decided to give platelets to help others who might benefit,” said Keller. “I want to influence others to give who may be either scared or think they don’t have enough time in their schedule.”
Every 30 seconds, someone in the U.S. needs platelets. Platelets – a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, surgical patients and bone marrow recipients – must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are always needed. Trauma patients, those undergoing organ transplants and premature babies also regularly need platelets.
“If my mother and father were still alive today, they would probably say; our son is doing something meaningful with his life, he’s helping others,” Keller said.
During a platelet donation, blood is collected by a device that separates platelets from whole blood and returns the remaining blood components back to the donor along with a saline solution. The entire process takes about two to three hours, and donors are encouraged to relax during the donation. Platelets may be donated every seven days, up to 24 times a year.
The Red Cross is encouraging the community to give something that means something by donating blood or platelets before the holidays are in full swing. Platelets can only be donated at select Red Cross Donation Centers and an appointment is required. Those interested can use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to schedule a platelet or blood donation appointment now.
How to donate blood
Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.