It all began for James (Jim) Kuhlmann as a young man when he watched his dad donate platelets for many years at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. One day back in 1970, Jim’s dad was unable to keep his appointment, so Jim went in his place. That was the beginning of what is nearly a 50-year history of donating apheresis and platelets at Roswell Park.
So, how did Jim go from filling in for one day, to nearly fifty years of donating? Jim tells us after that first time he was 'hooked' literally! He says, “Donating was easy and I felt so good knowing I was helping someone right there at Roswell Park. Over the years, I have been able to help many patients; some I’ve known and some I have not. In one case, I donated directly to a co-worker’s aunt. Years later, she surprised me by attending my retirement party and I was elated to see a healthy woman that I had a small part in helping.”
To talk with Jim, you’ll find an easy-going, funny, intelligent and very determined man. Several years ago, Jim contacted the Guinness World Book of Records to see if he might qualify for a world record. It was certainly an exercise in determination and patience as it took ongoing correspondence, and several years of waiting to obtain the distinction. But, he did it! For his total donations on record through April 2017, Jim qualified and is the current record holder in the category of most donated blood-apheresis.
Today, Jim continues to donate platelets every two weeks and regularly encourages others to give as well. “We all make time for what is important to us, but do we make time for what is important to others? What could be more important than helping someone who is fighting for their life? Of course, being the world record holder is exciting, but it’s less about any achievement and more about knowing that in some way, I’m able to help patients in need.”
Jim and his wife, Susan, now spend winters in Florida. Jim quickly affiliated himself with a blood center in Florida and is keeping up with his donations in between golf games. Jim is an extremely dedicated donor and a passionate advocate for the Donor Center. While we are fortunate to have many long-time donors at our center, Jim is inspiring.