Veteran and Local Business Owner Helps Save Lives and Raises Awareness on Platelet Donation

André Gill is passionate about helping those in his community. You could say it runs in his blood. André is a loyal platelet donor with Rhode Island Blood Center (RIBC). He is also one of our top African American donors. We recently sat down with him to discuss why he is passionate about donating blood.

When you meet André, the first thing you will notice is his commanding stature. He is a graduate from Louisiana State University, where he played football. In fact, he is the only football player in the school’s history to graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering. He now runs his own company.

André has been donating with RIBC since 2015. However, he has always felt a duty to serve his community, as he also served in the Untied States Navy.

“I was in the military, so I feel obligated to do certain things. I just feel like everyone has a civic duty to do things that can help the community.”

While speaking with RIBC, André reflected on a staff member he had come to know. During his last donation, he noticed she was now one of our patient stories on the wall as she needed blood during her cancer treatment. André says that moment hit close to his heart.

“It was the first time I saw someone I felt like I knew. It made me want to donate that much more.”

André started donating platelets after a RIBC staff member made the recommendation based on his blood type. The collection process does take some time, about two hours . The standard whole blood donation takes less than an hour. However, André tells RIBC, it’s time well spent, and he can use the time to get his work done. 

“It’s like everything else in life, if you have the ability to do something and be a part of something that is bigger than yourself and help somebody, then I sort of feel that is your obligation.”

Platelets are most often used for people undergoing cancer treatment, like the children at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. They can also help those who have heart disease or a blood disorder where they have trouble forming blood clots.

They are sometimes referred to liquid gold as they will have a yellow tint to them when collected. Each donation can help save up to three lives. Platelets have a short shelf life of 5-7 days. However, you can donate them every 2 weeks and up to 24 times a year. André tells RIBC, he is happy to sacrifice the time knowing he is helping others.

“I would feel bad being in the position I am in and not trying to help people out. Whatever talents people have, they should try to use them for the betterment of the world.”

To date, André has made 117 donations, helping to save up to 351 lives in our community. Right now, there is an urgent need for platelet donors. André hopes by sharing his story, it will encourage others to donate. 

“It’s something I don’t think twice about. It’s almost no effort for me to do and it helps the community.”

If you are interested in learning about what goes into donating platelets, click here.

To book your lifesaving appointment, click here or call 401-453-8383