Robert Hurkett of Woburn, Massachusetts, is what you call a "regular" at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
Everyone there knows him by name.
Hurkett started donating platelets in 1997, when a young girl in his community needed a bone marrow transplant. He's been hooked ever since.
He said, “Once you start, how do you stop? Because you know that you are helping people. That's why I have continued and I will continue as long as I can.”
He has made a total of 320 platelet donations, making him one of the highest donors at the facility.
And he says it's simple. He comes in every two weeks. When he arrives, they take his blood pressure, pulse and check his hemoglobin.
Hurkett said, “And if everything is a go, then you sit at a machine like this and they put a needle in your arm and it cycles the blood. It takes blood out and the machine spins out some of the platelets and it returns everything else back to you.
An hour to 70 minutes later, after relaxing, watching some television and building friendships with nurses like Karen Brousseau, Hurkett is free to go home.
Brousseau said, “You meet wonderful people every day. You become friends with people who come in every week, every two weeks.”
Brousseau oversees the collection area. In the past 20 years, she's witnessed blood donations increase, which is extremely important because blood has a limited shelf life. She says volunteer donors ensure there will be a sufficient supply of blood for the patients who need it, whenever they need it.
She said, “On occasion, I see patients come over and actually go up to a platelet donor and say I want to thank you for giving my life.”
For Hurkett that's reason enough for him to make this sacrifice, which he really doesn't consider to be a sacrifice at all.
He said, “Everybody knows someone who has cancer. If you want to try to save someone, minimal effort, no pain, and you are out of here in an hour-and-a-half or two hours.”