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Shared mission unites Tyler’s Saturday Platelet Crew

Every other weekend, a lifesaving quartet of East Texas donors meets to help local patients in need.

James Hatchell, Phillip Payne, Ernest Teneyuca and Lyndon White – otherwise known as the Saturday Platelet Crew – have been donating like clockwork “for as long as any of us can remember,” said Allison Tobey, site supervisor of Carter BloodCare’s Tyler Donor Center.

Photo of four men donating platelets with Carter BloodCare

Strangers at first, the four men united as an unofficial group through their consistent twice-monthly platelet donation schedules and shared purpose of giving back to the community.

“They’re usually the first ones here when we open,” said Tobey. “One brings donuts for everybody, they talk shop, and they make that time and experience so fun for everyone, donors and staff alike.

“We just love seeing them and the dedication they have in donating. It’s a great way to start the weekend.”

Platelets can be donated every two weeks, unlike whole blood, which can be donated every 56 days.

And, while the donation process itself for whole blood can take less than 15 minutes, the apheresis process for platelet collection can last around two hours. That is because apheresis draws and automatically separates the blood components during donation, saves the desired platelets and safely returns the other components into the body.  

The additional donation time allows the Saturday Platelet Crew to talk shop, but importantly it helps more people with specific health care needs.

Because platelets help the blood clot, they are in high demand for treating patients fighting cancer, those undergoing heart surgeries and organ transplants, and trauma patients with massive bleeding injuries.

“Donating platelets is about supporting the community and building a community, one of dedicated, like-minded lifesavers,” said Tobey.

Ernest Teneyuca
James Hatchell
Lyndon White
Phillip Payne

Platelet donations are currently offered at all Carter BloodCare donor centers.