Alden R. Tagg of Woodside sometimes has cookies for dinner. "They're just first-class cookies," he said. "I don't know anybody who makes better cookies."
The cookies are his reward after giving blood at the Stanford Blood Center in a voluntary procedure he braved 700 times as of Monday, Nov. 2. The blood center, which also has locations in Palo Alto and Mountain View, hosted a breakfast on Nov. 6 to honor Mr. Tagg and some 800 other donors who have given blood at least 100 times, spokesman Loren Magana said.
Mr. Tagg is one of two donors who have given blood to the center at least 700 times, Mr. Magana said.
Seven hundred donations is the official number. The real number is 760 over 40 years, Mr. Tagg said, but the 60 took place elsewhere on the Peninsula while the Stanford center was offline.
"Somebody has to do it," he said when asked why he donates his blood. "Anybody who can do it should do what they can."
The need is very real, he said, particularly for children with leukemia, a blood disease. "It especially touched us because our kids didn't have leukemia and other kids did," he said. Mr. Tagg is married to Barbara Tagg.
Asked if it hurts when the needle is inserted, he acknowledged that sometimes it does, as is true with most injections. The pain, if any, is temporary, he added. "They have to do it well, and they care," he said, referring to the phlebotomists people trained to draw blood. "It's a minimum of hurt," he said.
Mr. Tagg, 87, gives blood platelets, which are instrumental in blood clotting to stop bleeding. The procedure involves a machine that takes drawn blood, a little bit at a time, sends it to a centrifuge to extract platelets, then sends it back into the donor's arm through the same needle. "It's a slick system," Mr. Tagg said.
This procedure has come a long way since the days when the returned blood went in via a separate needle in the donor's other arm, he said. Both arms were strapped down and he had to lie there for four hours. He needed to make requests to have itches scratched, he said. One lesson he remembered from those days: Itchy spots will stop itching after a while.
Today, the procedure is 60 to 90 minutes involving just one arm. You can bring your laptop or a book or watch movies on portable DVD players available at the center. Mr. Tagg said he will sometimes pick up a movie at the nearby Menlo Park Library beforehand. There's no wooziness afterward with platelet extraction, he added.
The Food and Drug Administration recommends limiting donations of platelets to 24 times a year, he said. Donations of whole blood, such as is used in procedures such as liver transplants and to restore blood in case of accidents, should not be done more than six times a year, he said.
The Menlo Park branch of the blood center is at 445 Burgess Drive. "If you can donate, you really ought to look into it," Mr. Tagg said. "All (donors) have to do is get there. We don't need to know anything. We get to be the heroes and they do all the work."
Along with cookies, there are pretzels and juices: orange, cranberry and a combination drink made from passion fruit, orange and guava that is especially good, he said.