Marty Pawlicki of Briny Breezes has tubes running into both arms while he makes the final donation of platelets on his way to the 100-gallon milestone. To the right is Benita Teschendorf, his fiancee, whom he met while donating his 70th gallon. Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star
By Rich Pollack
Talk to Marty Pawlicki and it soon becomes apparent that he is a health and fitness fan, who rides his bike 20 to 25 miles a day and who is a regular on the tennis courts.
Pawlicki is also a numbers guy; he taught math as well as public health at Palm Beach State College before fully retiring a few years ago.
So it comes as no surprise that one of Pawlicki’s most ambitious goals combined the two.
Just a few weeks ago, Pawlicki reached a major milestone when he donated a pint of blood that put him over the 100-gallon mark.
It is an achievement that has been more than 20 years in the making and one that few others reach.
“Giving blood is the easiest way to do something good,” says Pawlicki, 70, a Briny Breezes resident. “It’s easier to replace blood than to replace money.”
Pawlicki, from Michigan, has been giving blood for decades, but he says his quest to reach the 100-gallon mark began almost two decades ago after he attended a celebration honoring blood donors.
He read a booklet there that listed those who gave in order of how much they donated. At the time, Pawlicki was fairly far down the chart, but he was ambitious.
“I wanted to get on the first page of the booklet,” he said.
Once Pawlicki reached 46 gallons, he did a few calculations and set an even more ambitious goal. “I thought I could get to 100 gallons,” he said.
There was a bit of a hitch, however. Blood banks generally limit whole blood donations to six times a year. At that rate, Pawlicki calculated, it would take far too long to reach his goal, and he probably would never make it.
Pawlicki, who has A-positive blood, went a different route, becoming a plateletpheresis donor, who can donate up to 24 times a year, making his goal more realistic.
With pheresis, blood is withdrawn from the body and platelets, the cells responsible for clotting, are removed. The donor’s blood is then put back in the body to house remaining and newly produced platelets.
A familiar face at the OneBlood blood bank in Delray Beach, Pawlicki is there on a regular schedule for about 90 minutes every other week.
“I like doing it,” he said. “You can lie there and watch a movie.”
Through his donations, Pawlicki has gotten to know the staff at the center as well as some of the other regular donors, including someone with whom he plays tennis.
For Pawlicki, his regular trips to the blood center also helped him discover he had high-blood pressure, which is now being treated.
Trained as a nurse, Pawlicki spent much of his career in Michigan as a public health educator teaching all aspects of health, including fitness, nutrition and stress management.
“Health is really synonymous with happiness,” he said, adding that having your health makes it possible to achieve your goals.
It was a few years after his son Michael was born that Pawlicki and his wife (now ex-wife), also a nurse, began giving blood.
“We would go to the blood center as part of a family outing,” he said, explaining that the couple would bring their son, who would play at the blood center while they gave blood. “We all did it together. It might have had something to do with learning to insert an IV.”
Pawlicki believes that the future of blood donations belongs to younger people who he hopes will become donors.
“The only way a high school student should think about losing blood is by donating,” he said.
As for Pawlicki, he now has a new goal — to reach 1,000 donations.
“That’s 25 more gallons,” the former math professor said without skipping a beat.