Clinical Center News
Spring 2020

NIH celebrates two local men for their 400th platelet donations to patients

Two males holding appreciation certificate
Joe Fennel (center) was presented the appreciation certificate for the 400th donation of platelets. Pictured with him, Halanzo Wilkins, recruitment supervisor, NIH Blood Bank.
Group of people celebrating Bill Cervenka's 400th platelets donation
Dan Llenas, apheresis specialist, Biren Naik, donor resources specialist, Hal Wilkins, donor recruitment supervisor, platelet donor Bill Cervenka and Juan Salgado, apheresis supervisor.

They say lightning doesn't strike the same place twice. However, at the NIH Donor Center at Fishers Lane it did! On March 6, NIH celebrated its second donor in a month making a 400th platelet donation.

Joe Fennel has been a steadfast platelet and granulocyte donor since the1970s and has helped numerous Clinical Center patients through his donations. A retired D.C. fire fighter, Fennel rode his bike to the Bethesda campus all the way from Alexandria, VA, until the donation center got moved to Fishers Lane in 2015.

"I donate blood because to me it is a very rewarding thing to do. I derive satisfaction from it, and encourage others to do it. It's a very simple act that benefits patients at the Clinical Center," Fennel said.

Additionally, as part of his 400 plus apheresis donations, Fennell has made 37 granulocyte donations which are white blood cells that help fight infections. Unlike platelet donations, which are viable for five days, granulocytes are only viable for 24 hours and are generally used for patients with life-threatening infections.    

Bill Cervenka is another member of the NIH Blood Bank's most dedicated platelet and granulocyte donors. On March 2, Cervenka celebrated his 400th platelet donation with NIH Donor Center staff.

The volume of a bag of platelets is approximately 400 ml; a donor with 400 platelet donations has donated about 160 liters or 42 gallons by volume. However, the more accurate way to look at a platelet donation is the number of therapeutic doses each platelet donation provides to patients. The average unit of platelets can provide two therapeutic doses of platelets.

"Thorough the years, Joe's and Bill's donations have contributed to the welfare of approximately 1,600 patients. We like to express our gratitude to Joe, Bill and so many other donors that come and support our patients," said Hal Wilkins, recruitment supervisor at the NIH Blood Bank.

Call the NIH Donor Center at Fishers Lane at (301) 496-4321 or learn more online.

- Submitted by the NIH Blood Bank

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