Giving the Gift of Life

Lee Santillano and Terese Stuckman are no strangers to the staff of United Blood Services in Meridian.

While many blood donors give a pint every eight weeks, these volunteers are platelet donors. They may give up to two pints at a time. The platelets are extracted and the blood returned to them. It's a vital part of therapy for cancer patients and accident victims.

"We're still currently struggling and in a very precarious situation," said UBS spokesperson, Susan Morris. "And when you have incidents such as this high profile train wreck, it certainly highlights the desperate need to be sure that we have blood on the shelves to immediately respond to that event and not wait to donate after the fact."

Platelet donors may give more frequently because they don't have to replace their blood supply. Santillano has donated platelets over 100 times. It's a tribute to his late wife.

"In 1997 my wife was diagnosed with leukemia and one of the ways we could help was to donate platelets," Santillano said.

Stuckman, who has donated over 140 times, also said she likes helping other people.

"I know it's difficult for some, but it's easy for me," said Stuckman. "It's one way I serve."

Both encouraged other healthy adults to donate blood and platelets. That may be done at United Blood Services, 1115 25th Avenue in Meridian during regular business hours, Monday through Friday.