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    The ‘walking talking platelet factory’

    Ric Martin sits for his 500th blood donation, which can take up to two hours of being attached to machines. - Times-Mirror Photo/Jonathan Taylor
    Ric Martin walked into Inova Blood Donor Services Dec. 14 ready to have his 500th automated blood collection in the form of plasma and platelets.

    Martin began donating blood more than 30 years ago. His father was a frequent donor and he wanted to follow in those footsteps.

    He has kept a fairly regular schedule over the course of those 30 years, and even has the license plate WTPF, which stands for "Walking Talking Platelet Factory."

    It is estimated that Martin has spent at least 46 days in a chair having his blood drawn, though the number is probably higher because in the earlier days of blood drawing the machines took much longer.

    If somebody were to start donating for the first time tomorrow and did it every other week, it would take them almost 21 years to do what Martin has down.

    According to FDA regulations a donor is only allowed to give whole blood every 8 weeks, plasma and platelets every 4 weeks, and platelets only every 2 weeks.

    Martin became a donor recruiter four years ago, after being a volunteer for two years.

    "They figured I was their biggest donor, so what the heck," said Martin.

    His regular work day at Inova starts at 11 a.m. on Fridays, which is also his day to donate. On the Fridays he does donate Martin shows up at 8 a.m., is done by 10 a.m. and has time to relax before work.

    After being asked how he stayed so committed, Martin responded "it's the patients themselves."

    Then he told a story about seeing child leukemia patients and how different their day goes when they receive platelets as opposed to when they do not.

    On the days the patients do receive platelets Martin says, "They're bouncing off the walls."

    After Martin discusses why he does what he does, he urges people to be more proactive about donating blood.

    Because platelets have such a short shelf life they are in short supply.

    They are also the component of the automated blood collection process that can be repeated the most often in a year, up to 24 times.

    Before he reached 500 units donated, it was rare to see people give 300 units, according to Frances Holley, the assistant director of IT, donor recruitment and support services at Inova Blood Services.

    If a person were to give every time they could in a year they could feasibly donate 26 times, but the FDA regulates that number back to 24.

    For more information on how to donate visit Inova Blood Donor Services at

    To be a platelet donor, you must:
    -be at least 17 years old
    -be in good health
    -weigh at least 110 pounds
    -not have taken any aspirin or aspirin based products within 48 hours prior to donation

    Kudos to ric. I donate platelets about every month(as long as my work schedule allows).

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