In honor of Blood Donor Appreciation month, Roswell Park Cancer Talk is spotlighting a pair of Roswell Park’s most committed donors.
Between them, Richard Casseri and Dan McCue have been donating platelets to Roswell Park patients for a combined 76 years. Not only are Richard and Dan longtime visitors to the Donor Center at Roswell Park, they’ve also become friends over the years, even having worked together for a period of time.
We spoke to Richard and Dan about why they began giving platelets and what donating at Roswell Park means to them.
In 1969 Richard Casseri was a member of the New York State Junior Chamber, when he was given the responsibility of recruiting blood donors for Roswell Park. In an effort to help boost the project, Richard made a commitment to donate his own blood.
Forty-six years later, at the age of 74, he still donates platelets on a regular basis and carries the distinction of being Roswell Park’s longest active visitor to the Donor Center. He has seen quite a bit over four-and-a-half decades, including a number of nurses and phlebotomists, and the creation of a new Donor Center.
Richard has also had friends and family come to Roswell Park for treatment. “I’ve donated for people close to me who came to Roswell Park,” he says. “So, I’d give platelets and then visit with him or her. At that point, you just wonder what problems you really have."
Richard’s service was interrupted only once, for about a full year, following a trip out of the country. (Donors are not eligible to give blood after visiting certain foreign countries.) Otherwise, he has been a loyal donor, reaching his 500th donation in 2006. Now well over 800 donations, Richard doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. “I was blessed with good health,” he says. “I just figured I would share it.”
Dan McCue is a familiar face around Roswell Park. Along with donating platelets the maximum 24 times per year, Dan also donates his musical talent in the main hospital lobby every Tuesday with his band, The Buffalo Guys.
“Almost every week, I see somebody I know,” he says. “Somebody is coming either for themselves or for a relative. No one is unscathed when it comes to cancer.”
Since his first donation 30 years ago, the personal aspect is what motivates Dan to give back. “You start doing it and you see what happens and who it helps. If I know a patient here, it’s the first question I ask them. ‘Do you need platelets? Does your spouse or child?’ If that’s the case, I’ll earmark mine for that person.”
“It is fulfilling,” he says. “It’s very rewarding. You have to juggle your schedule every once in a while, but I still manage to make the 24 [donations] a year. I always have.”