Stephen Alvillar, 59, has been donating blood at the Blood Donor Center at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center for 11 years. He connected with the Blood Donor Center while he was in the lobby at Long Beach Medical Center while his wife underwent surgery. Suddenly, a feeling swept over him — a feeling that he needed to make a difference.

Stephen took the elevator down to the Blood Donor Center and made an appointment to donate platelets. Since then, Stephen has been a regular platelet donor. Now a retiree, Stephen tries to donate platelets about every two weeks.

“Donating feels good, doing things for other people feels good,” says Stephen. “Donating blood or platelets is not hard to do but is rewarding to know that you can make a difference in somebody’s life who needs blood.”

Stephen donates platelets because he knows how important they are. When you get cut, platelets bind the site of the damaged vessel to cause a clot to stop you from bleeding.

“This is why platelets are essential for survival. They are needed to help patients fighting cancer and other chronic diseases,” says Emmanuel T. Ferro, M.D., medical director, clinical pathology, Blood Bank, Long Beach Medical Center. “Platelets also are very important for patients who need surgery, which may include trauma patients or planned surgery patients.”

Platelets may be donated every seven days, up to 24 times a year. One platelet donation can potentially save up to three lives.

“Anyone considering donating should eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet with foods rich in iron and high in vitamin C,” says Dr. Ferro. “Your body needs iron to make new blood cells to replace the ones lost through blood donation.”
Stephen also makes sure that he’s hydrated and well rested before his platelet appointment.

“I get a good night’s sleep the night before I donate platelets, eat a healthy meal and make sure I drink extra liquids,” says Stephen.

During his donation session, Stephen relaxes and sometimes even watches a movie. From start to finish, the platelet donation process includes a patient history questionnaire a physical and takes about two hours per donation. 
“Donating platelets is a simple act that can make a big difference in someone’s life,” says Stephen.

“If you’re considering it, just give it a try, you never know what an impact you can make right here in your own community.”

To schedule an appointment to donate blood or platelets, please call the Blood Donor Center at (562) 933-0808 or schedule online.