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Brookline man celebrates 600th platelet donation

Mel Stoler celebrates his 600th platelet donation with staff at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center. Photo courtesy of Mel Stoler
May 6, 2024  Updated May 7, 2024 at 5:43 p.m.

Mel Stoler started donating blood platelets in the late 1980s, and he never stopped.

36 years after first walking past a table trying to recruit donors, Stoler, a lifelong Brookline resident, just hit a major milestone as he donated for the 600th time.

He started, he said, because he learned that receiving donated platelets was vital for people undergoing many treatments, including for cancer. Donating also requires more time than typical blood donations, generally about two hours. The platelets’ shelf life is only five days after donation.

“I was healthy and able to do it,” Stoler said.

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At first, he went occasionally, in the mornings before work. Then it turned into a monthly trip. Today at 68 and retired from a long career as a social worker, Stoler goes every other week to the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

“It’s like family there,” he said. “They see me, and one of the guys says ‘welcome home, Mel,’ every time he sees me.”

Platelets are small, colorless cell fragments in blood that form clots and stop or prevent bleeding, according to the Red Cross. When donating, a small needle removes blood from one arm. A machine extracts the platelets, and then the remaining blood components are returned into the patient’s other arm.

Stoler is an avid cyclist who has been riding in the Pan Mass Challenge for 38 years. He’s also a volunteer courier for the National Marrow Donor Program.

He says he’d like to see more people take the time to donate platelets..

“Give it a try. It could work very easily for you,” Stoler said.

Get more information about donating platelets from the Kraft Center or the Red Cross.