Arcadia commercial real estate professional Lawrence A. Lippincott saves lives through his frequent donation of blood platelets.
The platelets, which are a part of the blood that enables clotting after a cut, scrape or other injury, are most often needed by cancer patients.
“There’s definitely a shortage of platelets because it takes about two to two and a half hours to donate them each week,” Lippincott said. “I think most people who do this donate whole blood, which only takes about 15 minutes.”
Lippincott donates platelets about once per week at United Blood Services’ Commerce Center location at 1405 N. Hayden in Scottsdale.
He said donating blood is a comfortable and easy way to give back to the community.
“They make you as comfortable as possible. You get a snack and beverages afterwards. You can read, listen to music or watch TV,” Lippincott said. “The room has to be kept cool because of the blood products, so they put heating pads on your back and a blanket over you.”
He said blood donation is even more convenient for him because of the slow commercial real estate industry in the valley.
“You’re giving blood so it’s not a form of economic hardship on a family or a person,” Lippincott said. “It’s not like giving aid to Afghanistan where sometimes it ends up stuck on the dock, they’ve bought the wrong products and it goes to waste because there’s a lot of bureaucracy. But you know this blood goes to a good cause. We’re saving lives.”
Lippincott said he has been donating blood on a volunteer basis for over 20 years.
“I had just moved to California and gotten a job as a shopping center manager,” he said. “I just saw one of those blood mobiles and decided to donate. I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Scottsdale real estate professional Branden Lombardi said he relied on donated blood during his three-year battle against bone cancer, which was diagnosed at age 17.
“You have to be very conscious of your blood counts while going through treatments because the idea behind chemotherapy is to target all rapidly dividing cells in order to kill the cancer,” Lombardi said. “It also kills the white blood cells that help you fight infection, the red blood cells that deliver oxygen throughout your body and the platelets which help prevent blood from flowing when you cut or scrape yourself or brush your teeth too hard.”
He said he received frequent transfusions of red blood cells and platelets after each of his chemotherapy treatments.
Lombardi said a stem cell transplant put his cancer into remission.
“They gave me ultra-high doses of chemotherapy to wipe out all the cancer,” Lombardi said. “When I was done with the chemotherapy, they introduced the stem cells into my body with the idea of building me back up.”
“After the transplant, I received daily transfusions of red blood cells and platelets to help me recover faster,” he said.
At age 29, Lombardi said he appreciates the generosity of blood donors like Lippincott.
“I’m not speaking hypothetically when I say blood donors helped save my life,” he said. “In October I will have been nine years post-transplant, there have been no reoccurrences of cancer, and I am as happy and healthy as anyone can be.”
Sue Thew, media and public relations specialist with United Blood Services, said the demand for blood in the valley always outstrips supply, especially for platelets.
“We fill the needs of 54 hospitals in this state and it takes about 700 blood donors each day to do that,” she said.
Thew said United Blood Services always finds a way to meet the needs of the community.
“Arizona is quickly becoming the epicenter for cancer research and modern medical treatments,” Thew said. “The increased demand in platelet transfusions for those patients is currently being met with the assistance of out-of-state resources. To accommodate this surge, we are expanding facilities for platelet donations and are actively looking for more platelet donors.”
She said it’s a race against time.
“Platelets have a shelf life of five days,” Thew said. “The first 24 to 36 hours are spent testing and preparing the platelets, so we don’t have much time to get those donations to the people who need them most.”
Thew said platelets are just one of several possible ways to donate blood.
“You can also give red blood cells, plasma or whole blood, with whole blood taking as few as 15 minutes to donate,” said Thew. “The component of your blood you would be donating depends on your blood type and our most pressing needs.”
Thew said she recommends anyone interested in donating blood to call United Blood Services at 877-448-4483 or visit the organization’s website at unitedbloodservices.org.
“I’m happy to be giving something that I know is going 100 percent to the end user,” Lippincott said. “I think the important thing is that it’s not about me. It’s about getting the word out that there is a shortage in the community and there’s always a need. This is something people can do to give when money is tight.”