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A loyal 18-year, 40-gallon blood and platelet donor, and dedicated Memorial Blood Centers donor recruiter, Mint Kunkel exemplifies what it means to ‘do what you love’ when he explains, “I donate to heal and save lives.”

“Imagine feeling passionate about an awesome job that connects generous platelet donors with the chance to give a gift directly to help save and sustain the lives of others,” Mint Kunkel explains. “Nearly every day I hear stories from donors and recipients alike of how platelets made a life-saving difference to a mother or sibling battling cancer, or a newborn whose only chance at life is an emergency transfusion. They are why I’m also passionate about doing whatever I can to save lives myself. In fact, one of the most compelling reasons I donate platelets is to support Memorial Blood Centers’ Apheresis Angels Program. As cancer has become more of a chronic disease than a death sentence, there are more and more patients who need the specially-matched platelets that we Angels can provide.” 

Many cancer patients, undergoing multiple treatments for years, can develop antibodies to foreign antigens and require platelets specifically matched to their unique set of Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA)—critical components in the immune system’s defense against bacteria, viruses and parasites. Apheresis Angels are generous donors whose platelets undergo an extensive antigen typing procedure and, when called upon, make a special donation to meet a specific patient’s time-sensitive need for HLA-matched platelets.

“I like to say that platelets are the body’s bandage. They are one of the three essential components found in blood—along with red cells and plasma—and control bleeding by forming clusters to plug small holes in blood vessels,” Mint said. “For cancer patients, as an example, platelets are what most often get destroyed when people receive chemotherapy and, therefore, need to be replaced. Cardiac patients also frequently receive platelets; they often are prescribed blood thinners that make their platelets so slippery that they don’t work effectively. Platelet transfusions are often needed for these patients prior to surgery. Bone marrow recipients need platelets as well. And platelets only last five days outside of the body so platelet donors are always in high demand.” 

“As a donor recruiter, I connect platelet donors with those in need,” Mint added. “And as an Apheresis Angel, like my fellow platelet donors, I stand ready to answer the call whenever my specially-matched platelets are needed to save the life of someone in need.” 

Find out more about how you can help save the lives of infants, children, and adults through blood donation. Learn more at About Blood.