Health & Family

Rock Hill blood donor sets 200-gallon platelet record

The achievement of Rock Hill’s Patrick White is so rare, there was no award to mark the record.

Nobody in the Charlotte region of the American Red Cross has ever donated 200 gallons of platelets. When White reached the milestone last month, there was no corresponding pin to give him because there had never been any need for one.

“I didn’t worry about the pin,” said White, 68. “I just sat there and did what I do twice a month, every month: Give my platelets so that someone might live a full life.”

Officials at the Park Road headquarters of the Red Cross in Charlotte confirmed that, despite the thousands of blood and platelet donors over the years in a region with close to a million people, it appears that White is the first person to reach 200 gallons of donated platelets.

So Red Cross staffers had to order a special 200-gallon pin.

Through snow and ice, rain and heat, across all seasons, White – a Marine Corps combat veteran of the Vietnam War – has donated platelets a seemingly unthinkable 630 times.

Because White gives platelets and not whole blood, he has to travel to the regional Charlotte office to donate. He can’t go to a bloodmobile or to any other quick-stop donation site. The two-hour process takes the platelets from his blood, then puts the blood back in.

It’s kind of like an oil change.

“When people have chemotherapy, radiation, those kinds of procedures, platelets die,” White said. “I look at this as giving those courageous people another chance at life.”

The demand for platelets continues to grow as medical advances require more platelets for patients, said Natividad Lewis, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross in Charlotte. Platelet donors are “real heroes” who donate their time and their blood to help others.

No platelet-giving hero has given more than White, who has been donating for three decades. He is healthy and has no plans to stop, either. It took 11 years to go from his then-record of 100 gallons of platelets in 2003 to hit 200 gallons.

Now his sights are set on 300 gallons.

“You give blood one donation at a time, so I look at it that way – I am starting another journey,” White said. “Three hundred gallons is in reach. Easy.”

White, a Sunday School teacher and retired accountant, would be pushing 80 by then, but no matter.

“If I have the platelets, I will donate,” he said.

On Saturday, Patrick White gave his first platelets after the historic 200 gallon mark. Then he marked his calendar for the next time.

And the time after that.