Local Man Celebrates 80th Birthday by Giving Back

Russ Anderson made his 280th platelet donation for his 80th birthday. Photo courtesy of the Anderson family

Posted 8/10/12 – Like many folks celebrating their birthday, particularly milestone birthdays, Russ Anderson hoped to spend time with his family when he recently celebrated his eightieth birthday.  Unlike most folks, though, Anderson got to spend time with several members of his family, spanning three generations, with what is turning into a family tradition, donating blood and platelets at City of Hope in Duarte.  And if all goes well, it appears that just before his 81st birthday, he will celebrate a milestone in that regard, as well, by donating platelets for the 300th time!

We reported after Anderson’s birthday last year that he had joined family members at City of Hope as he donated platelets for the 259th time, and this year for his birthday, he donated for the 280th time.  So, if he’s donating twenty-one times a year (you can donate up to 24 times in a year), sometime in June of next year, he will be donating platelets for the 300th time.

Anderson, who was Sierra Madre’s Older American of the Year in 2006 and a long-time (30+ years) volunteer with Sierra Madre Search and Rescue, has lived in Sierra Madre since 1966.

About Platelet Donations

During a platelet donation, a small portion of your blood (about 1/4 pint at a time), is drawn from your arm and passed through a sophisticated cell-separating machine. The machine collects the platelets and safely returns the remaining blood components, along with some saline, back to you. After the donation you can resume your normal activities, avoiding heavy lifting or strenuous exercise that day.

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.

Many patients who need platelets are undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplant and have weakened immune systems. A platelet dose from a single donor reduces the patient’s exposure to multiple donors and is therefore preferred by many physicians.

The donation takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours and may be a single or dual arm procedure depending on the collection device used.
Source: RedCrossBlood.org

Patients at City of Hope – most of whom are fighting cancer – rely on more than 37,000 units of blood and platelets each year for their survival.

Anderson’s birthday donation was his 280th donation (a double – donating a double means twice as long on the machine but produces twice as

many platelets).  Madeline, his wife of nearly fifty-five years, had slightly low hemoglobin but she usually donates every two weeks with him.  His son Tim, who had never donated blood or platelets before, also did a double. Tim’s wife Gina did a single donation.

Anderson’s daughter Laurie did a double, as did his son-in-law Dick, and his grandson, Carson.  Carson is acutely aware of the need for donations to the Red Cross, as he is a firefighter/paramedic with the San Bernardino County Fire Dept.

Anderson’s son Gary could not get away from work, and his grandson Hunter had a cold and could not donate. According to Anderson, both will donate next time.

To learn more about the City of Hope blood and platelet donation program, including information on whether or not you qualify, click here.