Michael Duarte recently became the newest member of the 100 Gallon Club, joining only 9 other individuals who are part of an elite group of our most dedicated donors.

Michael’s first donation came 40 years ago, after college in the early 1980’s. He worked at the Navy base in Newport, RI, and originally went simply to get an hour out of work and some free snacks. He quickly realized how rewarding blood donation can be, and began donating more and more frequently over the years.

Michael began as a whole blood donor, but eventually moved on to donate platelets in the 1990’s and has been doing so ever since. He first learned about apheresis when giving whole blood; one of the phlebotomists noted that he had good veins in both arms, and brought up platelet donations.

“Back in those days, donors needed both arms for platelets—they took the blood out of one arm, removed the platelets, then all the rest of the blood went back into your other arm.”

Platelets are a crucial component of blood, as they help prevent and stop bleeding. Platelets are most often needed for people undergoing cancer treatment, and with a shelf life of only five days, the demand is high and constant.

The donation process has since evolved since Michael first started donating, and donors now only need one arm to donate. Platelet donations take longer than whole blood, but he says it’s well worth it.

“I tried it and liked it, so I stuck with it. I feel much more energized afterward than when I give whole blood, because they only take out the parts they need. It’s part of my routine now, just like with working out or errands.”

Michael, a regular at RIBC’s Aquidneck location, cites the customer service experience as a large part of why he keeps coming back. The staff makes sure he is well taken care of throughout his appointment.

“The staff makes sure to personalize my experience so I’m comfortable the whole time which, since platelet donations take longer, I really appreciate.”

Platelet donors can give much more often than whole blood or red cell donors—as frequent as every two weeks—which means that donating platelets maximizes your impact on patients in need. You can learn more about donating platelets here.

Inspired by Michael’s story? Book your appointment to donate platelets at any one of our six centers around Rhode Island. Ineligible to donate platelets? You can still make a difference with your whole blood donation.