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The Buddy System

June 30, 2011 at 9:37 am

By Michele Hyndman, Public Relations Manager, Stanford Blood Center

On Dec. 29, 2010, Linda Johnson became the first woman to make 500 donations at Stanford Blood Center. It was more than 20 years ago when Linda’s friend and Stanford Blood Center platelet donor, Stan Jensen, urged her to check if she would make a good platelet donor. Linda was a perfect candidate with good veins and a high platelet count.

As they have for more than two decades, Linda and Stan have donated through a specialized two-hour process that allows the Center to collect specific blood components such as platelets. This donation type allows them to donate up to 24 times a year. Whole-blood donors are limited to a maximum of about six donations per year. Stan has donated more than 350 times at Stanford Blood Center.

“I’ve been a blood donor my whole life,” said Johnson who began donating at other centers in college and through blood drives at work. “How much time have I spent in those chairs?” she wondered.

The media looks on as Linda Johnson makes her 500th blood donation.

Stan and Linda carpool every other week from Moss Beach to Palo Alto to donate at Stanford Blood Center. “We believe in Stanford, the quality of their work and the care for their donors,” said Stan.

When Linda was called several years ago to donate platelets for a specific patient for whom she was a match, it cemented her commitment to donate as often as she was allowed. “I’m saving someone’s life, and for me it’s just giving some of my time,” she said.

Both Linda and Stan list several common factors that keep them loyal Stanford Blood Center donors. “Linda and I share a common ethic that volunteering is the right thing to do,” said Stan.

They say getting to know donor room staff and listening to blood recipients share their stories at a Stanford Blood Center event for donors who have given more than 100 times are powerful motivators to keep them donating as often as possible. “The annual breakfasts are a great way to see other frequent donors, hear what’s new in blood banking and get to meet recipients and hear their success stories,” said Linda.

The cookies offered in the refreshment area are good too. While Linda likes the chocolate chip ones, Stan loves the snicker doodle and peanut butter cookies the best.

“Everyone connected with the blood center is always friendly and professional, and I look forward to my visits. I will continue to donate as long as I am able to do so. In 20 years, maybe I’ll be the first woman donor to reach 1,000 donations,” said Linda.