Answering the call to donate blood over 40 years ago, Alexandra’s dedication and loyalty continues to serve as an exemplary model of the profound impact long-time blood and platelet donors can have on co-workers, friends, family, and even strangers.
When Alexandra Hauff arrived at her donation appointment in May 2010, she had no idea the significant milestone she was about to reach. Personally committed to doing what she could to save lives through blood donation, without praise or fanfare she had been making regularly scheduled trips to Memorial Blood Centers’ donor center for over 40 years. On that momentous day, Alexandra’s generous giving was about to exceed 75 gallons!
Quiet and reserved, Alexandra was surprised at what her years of faithful donations had added up to: 600 units. “I started donating in my 20s,” Alexandra remembers. “A surgeon at Abbott Northwestern Hospital—where I still work after 43+ years—was about to undergo surgery and was expected to need over 100 units of blood. I tried to donate at that time but was deferred because of some medications I was taking.”
Not easily deterred, Alexandra returned soon after. Free of the medication and fully eligible, she was determined to start donating for others who would find themselves in need of a life-saving blood transfusion. Forty years later, she remains a loyal and very frequent donor—now donating platelets.
“About 20 years ago, I switched from giving whole blood to giving platelets,” Alexandra said. “I was approached by the coordinator of Memorial Blood Centers’ Apheresis Program who asked if I would be willing to be tested—to be sure my platelet count was high enough to qualify—and to start donating platelets if it was. She talked to me about the importance of platelets, how they help the blood to clot in patients with low platelet counts. And she also explained about having my blood HLA-typed – meaning that my platelet antigens could be matched with specific cancer patients, those with a similar HLA profile, and who really need platelets from only one or a few matched donors to reduce risks during transfusion.”
Knowing that she could directly save the lives of patients like those undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer, Alexandra immediately committed to becoming a regular platelet donor. And for the past two decades, like clockwork, she has made it part of her routine every-other Monday to roll up her sleeve for an hour or so and give the gift of life to someone in need.
One year later, at an appointment in June of 2011, Alexandra arrived to donate her 81st gallon. "I give platelets because I can donate more often. The need for blood is so great that as long as I am able to, I am going to donate,” Alexandra added.