ASBP: Al Whitney Donates ‘Platelets Across America,’ Stops in Portsmouth
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Al Whitney Donates ‘Platelets Across America,’ Stops in Portsmouth

By Ralph Peters, ASBP Blood Donor Recruiter, Portsmouth, Va.
Al Whitney of Avon Lakes, Ohio, visited the Naval Medical Center on March 20 to donate platelets.  This was his third donation for the Armed Services Blood Program; however it marked his 721st lifetime donation in platelet units!

Whitney was born in East Cleveland, Ohio, and is the oldest of four siblings and a grandfather of four.  After enlisting in the Navy in 1956 as an option to college, Whitney completed a four-year tour as sonar man.

“I am lucky in the fact that I was in the service between Korea and Vietnam. After my term was completed, I wanted to pursue a profession in private industry,” Whitney said.

Whitney worked for several years after his tour of duty where he was in charge of the maintenance departments of several manufacturing industries ranging from the production of residential furnaces to pipe coating.

When asked how he came about donating blood, he smiled and stated that he read a sign in Cleveland which simple stated “Donate blood.”

“When I walked out, I stopped and thought, ‘Al, you can do better than this,’” Whitney said.

Thus, his journey began. He embarked on his life-long mission to both continue donating and to encourage others to do so.

“I went to my home church and local blood bank and requested to run a blood drive. My first drive resulted in three donors,” he said with a smile, “so I knew it was up from there! From 1965 to 1980, I coordinated a blood drive every eight weeks.” 

From 1985 to 2000, after moving the location of the blood drives to the city’s old fire house, he averaged 25 to 30 whole blood or platelet donors every week of the year.  In 2000, he asked his donors to help reach the year end goal of 2000 donations. By the end of the year, 2,069 units of blood were donated. 

“Not bad for a volunteer is it?” Whitney said.

His wife of “49 years and 11 days,” he said, had shared in his mission to donate and was active in encouraging others to do so.

Whitney said that in the late 60s or early 70s, he switched from whole blood donations to platelets and was able to donate 720 units before his visit to the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth in Virginia. 

Once while he was donating platelets, Whitney said he again thought to himself that he could make a better contribution and that is when his “Platelets Across America” campaign was born.  Since then, he has traveled to all 50 states — some several times — donating platelets, sharing his passion by encouraging others to donate and giving his knowledge and experience to blood donor center staff.

“I am former Navy,” Whitney said. “I know that the military needs blood as much, if not more, than the civilian donor organizations do.  I am going to continue donating as much as possible and promote this lifesaving activity to everyone so that they will donate blood.”    

To learn more about Whitney’s “Platelets Across America” campaign, visit

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