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90-year-old man doesn't let age stop platelet donations
Jun 27

The North Platte Telegraph

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) _ He's the gift that keeps on giving and at 90 years of age, Sherman Hirsch has donated platelets 725 times and is still going.

On Monday morning, Hirsch sat in a donor chair at the American Red Cross Blood Donation Center at 1111 S. Cottonwood St. He is a regular and has been for a long time, donating platelets every two weeks.

Hirsch moved to North Platte in 1988.

``I've been doing this about 28 or 29 years,'' Hirsch told The North Platte Telegraph. ``I don't remember how I got started donating. I suppose somebody contacted me, but I'm not sure.''

He was an administrator at Hall School when he began.

``I've been blessed with good health so I thought I should give back,'' Hirsch said. ``They really treat me nice here and then they tell me on the internet which hospital my platelets have gone to, so I know it's pretty important.''

Shae Sanchez, collection specialist, said platelets are used for cancer patients, while whole blood is used for transfusions, low iron, low red blood cells, trauma patients and other health needs.

``Blood is good for 56 days and platelets are only good for five days,'' Sanchez said. ``The body takes more time to get your blood back; that's why we recommend donating every eight weeks. For platelet donors, we recommend every two weeks.''

The biggest disadvantage, Hirsch said, is the time it takes.

``But I'm retired now so that's no problem for me,'' Hirsch said. ``I donate 24 times a year.''

Hirsch remembers when he first started donating at the office on Willow Street.

``I don't remember how many chairs there were, but we only had one TV set,'' Hirsch said. ``I'd come in after school was out and we'd all gather around there to watch Jeopardy. Now we all have our own TVs and ear phones so we don't interfere with each other.''

The process is different now than when he began.

``When they first started, they would use two tubes, one to take the platelets out and one to return my blood so I couldn't use either arm,'' Hirsch said. ``Now it's just one arm and they take my blood out and run it through this piece of equipment and that spins my platelets out, then I get my blood back.''

On Monday, the process for Hirsch to actually give the platelets was scheduled for 102 minutes.

``They give me a mini-examination when I come in here to check my blood pressure and my iron,'' Hirsch said.

The process takes about two to three hours overall, Hirsch said.

``We have a little snack and drink some juice and things like that,'' Hirsch said. ``I enjoy visiting with the nurses here and of course, I know some of the other donors here.''

He said the Red Cross usually has a donor recognition every year, but it was cancelled this year because of COVID-19.

Hirsch is a widower.

``My wife passed a little over 10 years ago,'' Hirsch said. ``I have a grandson, Kendal Dodge, who lives (in North Platte), and I have four children, three live in Nebraska, one in Missouri.''

Hirsch said he encourages people to step up and donate.

By The Associated Press, Copyright 2019