DAYTON — Community Blood Center Donor Room Supervisor Robert Snowden from Englewood sees needles in his sleep. Calculating the number of times he has expertly stuck donors is like finding a single strand of hay in a mountainous needle stack.
“I actually had a dream about that,” he admitted. “I bet it’s over 100,000 in my career,” he said, “because at the Plasma Center, we stuck like crazy.”
It’s a lot easier to count the times the needle has been turned in his direction. Especially on Oct. 28 when Robert made his milestone 100th lifetime blood donation with Community Blood Center.
His history in phlebotomy dates back to when he became a nurse in 1976 and started out working at Miami Valley Hospital. He may be underestimating himself on his number of needle sticks. He spent 12 years at the Plasma Donation Center where on a typical day he might “snake” around the donor stations, performing 75 sticks, while other staff members completed the draws. That extrapolates to a potential 225,000 sticks.
He came to CBC in 1998, and his rate slowed as he took on managerial duties. “I was on the floor a lot,” he said. “When I came here I started training people. I was here four weeks and was promoted to supervisor.” A conservative calculation is that he added another 5,000 donor sticks over his 17 years with CBC.
His 100th donation milestone marks only his CBC donations, which began his first year on the job. About half of the total is platelet and plasma donations and he was the first to donate double red blood cells when the machines were introduced to CBC on July 7, 2004.
Training Coordinator Paula Baker was there. “I have been fortunate to see many of Robert’s donations,” she said, “including the first drawn double red cell at CBC and I had the honor of drawing it! Robert has truly honored the mission of our organization! Congratulations to Robert on his 100th donation and new 100 LTD Donor Jacket!”
But his goal seemed to become more evasive the closer he came to the milestone.
“As a manager I can schedule myself when I have the time to do it,” he said. “I can go get screened, then maybe an hour later spend 10 minutes on a bed donating. I started thinking, ‘When am I going to get this in? When am I going to get this in?’”
He found the time on Oct. 28 and Amanda Wilson did the phlebotomy.
“I was so happy to be a part of such a big milestone!” she said. “Robert has been so busy lately and it was great to see him take time out to donate number 100! Congratulations!”
“I think it’s awesome,” said Robert’s mom Joann Snowden, who has volunteered at the Dayton CBC Donor Café since Robert recruited her right after retirement eight years ago. “I really didn’t know about it. He’s not one to brag. He came by to pick up the dog and had his jacket on. I wouldn’t have imagined! He’s enjoyed other people donating and reaching it, and to end up with 100, I think is great.”
“Good for you, Robert,” said Collection Services Director Kay Ollech. “Wear your jacket proudly.”
“I always liked the look of that jacket,” Robert said. “I was glad it didn’t go away with some of the other Donor for Life incentives. I was happy to join that club. That was a goal.”