LEESBURG, Fla. - Lowell Collins is this week's Getting Results Award winner.
Collins has been donating blood on a regular basis since 1953. He achieved a milestone last month when he reached 150 gallons.
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"I always try to get here early," he says, while seated in the waiting room of the One Blood Leesburg Donor Center. A poster proclaiming Collins the "Donor of the Month" is positioned directly in his view.
Collins travels to the center from his home in Umatilla as often as he's able to give, usually every two weeks.
"I figured up one time, I've driven over 20-thousand miles going to and from blood banks,"he says smiling.
He reached this milestone mainly by giving platelets that are transfused to cancer patients. Platelet donations are in constant need. Some donors can give as much as once every week.
"He's what we call a career donor," says One Blood spokesperson, Pat Michaels. "What he's been able to do is very rare."
Collins says began giving in his early 20's. "I was in church one Sunday and a woman asked me if I would donate blood because her husband was going to have surgery." Collins says he was nervous at first but continued. "It really didn't bother me. A couple of months after that I was walking down the street past the blood bank and stopped in again. I've been pretty regular ever since."
Collins is greeted with smiles and small talk from One Blood staff who say regulars like him become like family.
Teresa Welke has worked at the center for seven years. "We get to know about their families, their vacations, their pets." She says Collins brings them the best homemade cakes.
As Collins relaxes in the donation chair he glances over at the whirling machine by his side. "It's quite a deal," he says. Adding that he often thinks about the people that will get his blood and platelets and that's what keeps him coming back.
One Blood has a database of over 4-million people who have given at centers across the southeast. Collins is in the top ten for the amount he has given.
"There's no question about Lowell getting results," Michaels says. "Getting results In his case means saving people's lives."
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