In January 2014, the staff at the Dover Donor Center recognized Gwen Guerke of Milford for her 100th platelet donation. She has now recorded 125 successful donations and shows no sign of stopping. Guerke has donated platelets for 16 years and began doing so when her son was hospitalized from complications due to leukemia.
“My son Danny had leukemia. He died from it,” she explained. “He was at Hahnemann University Hospital. At the time I didn’t know that leukemia patients use platelets. They had a small donation room right there where I could donate. I had never even donated blood before.”
Critically needed for cancer and leukemia patients, platelets only have a five-day shelf life. Adding to the urgent need for platelets is that not everyone can donate. Donors must meet certain eligibility requirements, including having a platelet count ratio conducive to giving. During a platelet donation, a small amount of blood drawn from the arm is passed through a machine that collects platelets and plasma and returns red blood cells with saline to the donor. The whole process takes 1.5 to 2 hours, so Blood Bank of Delmarva offers a selection of movies and wifi to donors to pass the time.
“Here, I was encouraged to donate platelets rather than whole blood because not everyone can,” Guerke said. “I try to do it at least once a month because I know people need it, not just leukemia patients but patients with all kinds of cancers. Once after a donation, the phlebotomist told me my platelets were going right up to a child at Nemours/Alfred I duPont Hospital for Children.”
The Blood Bank of Delmarva urges all individuals to “be someone’s hero” by giving blood. Giving blood is a lifesaving gift that means hope for recovery and can often make the difference between life and death for patients. The Blood Bank of Delmarva asks people to visit the mobile Blood Bank which is held monthly at the Reformation Lutheran Church, 613 Lakeview Avenue, and at the Carlisle Fire Hall, 615 Northwest Front Street. A calendar of the dates can be found at https://www.delmarvablood.org/donate/blood-donation-sites/.