Chicago Man Donates Blood For 500th Time For World Blood Donor Day

Rob Hart
June 14, 2019 - 3:15 pm

(Rob Hart/WBBM)

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Today is World Blood Donor Day and one man from Chicago marked the occasion by donating platelets for the 500th time.

A signed card and a smattering of applause greeted Richard Packman as he entered the Vitalant facility in the Thompson Center just after 11 a.m. this morning.

Packman said he became a regular blood donor in 1991 before switching over to platelets in 1993.

The process of donating platelets takes about two hours, and he said that over the years he's watched a lot of movies. 

"I've watched more half movies than anyone in the country," Packman said.

Platelets are essential for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, and Packman said he thinks about the people his donations have helped.

"You can do a lot of volunteer work in a lot of different places," he said. "But, when you do volunteer work here and you donate blood or platelets you're actually saving someone's life."

A signed card and a smattering of applause greeted Richard Packman as he entered the Vitalant facility in the Thompson Center this morning. (Rob Hart/WBBM)

Now that he has donation number 500 out of the way, Packman has 600 in his sights, which could be in just for years, he said. 

"If I live and be well, I'll be around four years from now and I will be able to do my six hundredth donation," he said.

Phlebotomists say the challenge is recruiting the next generation of regular blood donors.  The supervisor at Vitalant in the Thompson Center said their regulars are older but high schools also frequently conduct blood drives.  The challenge is turning younger volunteers into regular blood donors.