Giving the Gift of Life
Like clockwork, every two weeks, Phillip Woolley heads over to the Northwest Florida Blood Center and spends about 90 minutes hooked up to a machine that extracts platelets from his blood. Known as apheresis, the procedure involves removing a specific component of the blood, such as platelets (i.e., small cell fragments in the blood that help with the clotting process) and returning the remaining components (i.e., red blood cells and plasma) to the donor. Donors who give whole blood can do so every 56 days, but those who do so through apheresis can donate every 14 days because the body can rejuvenate platelets in that period. The benefit of apheresis vs. giving whole blood, Woolley says, is that it offers immediate support to patients with cancer, leukemia and other conditions.
Woolley, a broker-sales associate with Exit Realty N.F.I. in Pensacola, admits that he’s not a fan of needles. But after he lost one of his best friends to leukemia during his teens, he decided to do whatever he could to help other victims. “I’ve given 134 units of blood, or just over 16 gallons,” he says. “If I can do it, then anybody can.”
Woolley often talks his friends, fellow real estate professionals and even customers into joining him at the blood bank. “I get them to give blood with me, and then we go for pizza,” he says.
Woolley currently serves on the board of the Northwest Florida Blood Center Foundation, which meets once a month to discuss fund-raising ideas. “Our job is to raise money for the blood bank,” he says. “Our blood bank mobile has about 217,000 miles on it, so we’re looking for a new one. They cost about $210,000, and we are working hard to have our target funds by the end of 2008.”