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Milestone Donor (and Guinness Book Record Holder): Bob Watson (Boston, MA)

Originally posted 7/31/2019

Bob Watson sits back as he donates blood to Boston Children's Hospital.

When 68-year-old Bob Watson first donated platelets in 1985 at the Boston Children’s Hospital Blood Donor Center, he sat in one of only two platelet donation beds with needles in both arms — one to take out the blood, the other to return red blood cells and plasma. At the time, Boston Children’s was a much smaller campus with a tiny blood donation center located in the basement of the Hunnewell Building.

Donating blood at Boston Children’s: Then and now

Today, donating blood products is much different than it was for Bob in the 1980s. Now located in a large space on the first floor of 333 Longwood Ave., the Blood Donor Center offers 10 donor beds and a bloodmobile with five more.

Boston Children's Hospital bloodmobile bus

In 2000, after donating platelets 500 times, Bob landed himself a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. But he didn’t stop there. Now on track to celebrate his 850th platelet donation, he’s never experienced an ill effect from donating and was deferred only once because of a low iron count.

Why platelets?

Bob donates platelets because they go far. In fact, one platelet donation can benefit at least four patients at Boston Children’s. Given the amount of children having surgeries, transplants, and cancer treatments that require platelets, and the fact that these cell fragments survive only five days outside the human body, there’s always a need.

At one point, donating platelets was part of Bob’s weekly routine, but when the FDA ruled that individuals could only donate platelets twice a month, he had no choice but to cut down to biweekly donations.

I don't consider myself anything special. I'm a low-key guy.

Bob Watson

Bob says he doesn’t do much to keep himself in proper health to donate. He naturally eats well and keeps in good physical condition. He often takes a “work from phone day” — calling into meetings and managing his businesses while walking up to 20 miles through the city of Boston. Even on days when he’s donating platelets, he walks from his home in Jamaica Plain instead of driving.

The process of donating doesn’t require much from Bob; “What am I doing? I’m just sitting here!” he says. In the past, he’d watch movies while he donated; nowadays, he likes to snooze in the chair.

‘It just makes sense to me’

Bob gets emotional when he thinks about the kids who use his platelets. “I have one rule: I don’t ever want to meet the people I donate to,” says Bob, pausing to collect his thoughts. “I don’t consider myself anything special,” he says. “I’m a low-key guy.”

Bob doesn’t ask for anything in return for donating. Occasionally, he’ll reward himself with a bag of chips, other than that he’s quietly charitable.

Despite his humility, there’s no doubt that Bob makes a big impact for patients and families at Boston Children’s. Teary eyed, Bob describes donating as a “big deal” — “It just makes sense to me.”

Inspiring the next generation of blood donors

Bob hopes that sharing his story will inspire more people to donate platelets. When he started donating blood, he was 21 and was rewarded with four hours off from his job for each successful donation. He now practices a similar policy at his own companies. If he could, Bob would reincarnate himself as Ellen DeGeneres and use her show to spread awareness.

When asked how long he plans to donate, Bob says, through chuckles, that he’ll reevaluate his donation habits after reaching 1,000 donations. Otherwise, he plans to continue donating until he’s told to stop.

Sign: "Thank you Bob Watson for your decades of donating on behalf of Boston Children's patients!"

Boston Children’s Hospital extends its deepest gratitude to Bob Watson and his dedication to the well-being of our patients. We thank you, Bob, and all those who donate blood products to our patients.

2020 milestone recognition donors

  • Donors selected for this annual recognition have donated Platelets 10+ times, Whole Blood 5+ times, or Double Red Cells 3+ times in the previous year.

Platelet Donors

  • Jonathan Perkins
  • Emily Pratt
  • Robert Watson
  • Patricia Sharp
  • John Theriault
  • Stephen Wilk
  • John Donahue
  • William O'Toole
  • Thomas Leslie
  • Paul Kelly
  • Marco Rocha
  • Russell Pratt
  • Robert Gadsby
  • Lorinda McMorran
  • James Cooney
  • Thomas Mulligan
  • Nicole Johnson
  • James Macpherson
  • Dennis Moran
  • Gregory Halloran
  • Carol Parrella
  • Evan Westlake
  • Gretchen Wilson
  • Colleen Collins
  • James Moran
  • Mark DeNicola
  • John Chin
  • Eric Eisenberg
  • Daniel Kennedy
  • Eric Lovejoy
  • Mary Cusack
  • Barbara Cleary
  • Robert Lash
  • John Kelley
  • Philip Graeter
  • Michael Burke
  • Richard Goldstein
  • Corey Chamberlain
  • Ian Underwood
  • Hannah McQuillan
  • Patrick Murphy
  • Kevin Kennedy
  • Billie Lee
  • Anthony Cunningham
  • Teresa Nickerson
  • Hannah Beller
  • Christopher Zaro
  • James Hopkins
  • Michael Maune
  • Harvey Minkin
  • Jonathan McCormick
  • William Howe
  • John Sweeney
  • Jeffrey Jasie
  • Amy Fein
  • John Corey
  • Roy Noepel
  • Grace Mcgathey
  • James Ruff
  • Marie Boyle
  • Robert Nolan
  • Sean Ferry
  • John Doyle
  • Robert Robichaud
  • Douglas Hurst
  • Mickey Benson
  • William Turosz
  • Douglas Kennedy
  • Jessica Moran
  • Daniel Kenslea
  • Duane Nelson
  • Adam Nussenbaum
  • Lorraine Dee
  • Jim Harrison
  • Laura Soper
  • Michael Carleton
  • Paul Olson
  • Mehmet Dincer
  • Laurie Kuck
  • Brian Donahue
  • Jacob Cormier
  • Greg Rucker
  • Bethany Ford
  • Justin Crisafulli
  • Eli Sprecher
  • Leanna Shea
  • Shane Ferrick
  • Barbara Payne
  • Brian Gill
  • Melissa Jones
  • James Payne
  • Mary Wells
  • Tess Ruderman
  • John Russell
  • Liam O'Connell
  • Daniel Coughlin
  • Anne-Marie Nolan
  • Erin Bourque
  • Susan Butterfield
  • Kevin Furtado

Double Red Donors

  • David Wilson
  • John Joffrion
  • Timothy King
  • Paul Natola
  • Paul Cohen
  • Edward Flanagan
  • Liam Sullivan
  • Bradley Whyte
  • Michael Kangas
  • Roger Matthews
  • Brandon Gibbs
  • Nathaniel Cabral-Curtis
  • John Robertson
  • Brian Kelly
  • Amir Rozenberg
  • William Cleary
  • Daniel Caron
  • Peter Nunziata
  • Andre Rosenberg
  • Mark Colbert
  • William Churchill
  • Jeffrey Howard
  • Benjamin Wilson

Whole Blood Donors

  • Robert Mccarthy
  • Alan Spillert
  • Steven Pedro
  • Stephen Williams
  • Nahur Fonseca
  • Susan Riley
  • Debra Ricottelli
  • Serge Shulga
  • Christopher Hopkinson
  • Christine Kohlsaat
  • David Trifone
  • Sally Orme
  • Heather Saczynski
  • Monica Wheeler
  • Kathleen Mallet
  • Catherine Holman
  • Robert Gale
  • Charles Langlais
  • Christopher Burke
  • Daniel Mercer
  • Courtney Ek
  • Kevin Welch
  • Aaron Curtis
  • Peter Photopoulos
  • Jacob Zimble
  • Patricia Bertucci
  • Catherine Putnamv
  • Douglas Meiklejohn
  • Alyssa Horn
  • Janet Spillert
  • Devon Stork
  • Joseph Mayer
  • Crandall Peeler
  • Jairo Suarez
  • Natalie Turkington
  • Evan Solomonides
  • Susan Daley
  • Thomas Atherton
  • Francis Morrisv
  • George Gilman
  • Larry Russell
  • Norma Reardon
  • Lori Ann Detrolio
  • Leonard Morse-Fortier
  • John Howe
  • Bruce Conant
  • Daniel Bresnahan
  • Lillian Wolfson
  • Richard Orlando
  • James Riley
  • Robert Ryan
  • Leah Abecassis
  • Kevin Wolfe
  • Joseph Ringv
  • Robert Obarv
  • Craig Cubell
  • David Lebet
  • Christina Cornish
  • Timothy Lawton
  • Kurt Gent
  • Scott Lambalot
  • Lizabeth Glynn
  • Joseph Sheehan
  • Charles Reid
  • Peter Shapiro
  • Brandon Sit
  • Sarah Coates
  • Charla Whitley
  • Michael Fogarty
  • Frank Tkacik
  • Daniel Sorensen
  • Jeffrey Loyd
  • Maureen Schnur
  • Francis Geary
  • Ross Chapman