Marriage is often described as journey where husband and wife greet significant milestones together, hand in hand. But you could say Vandalia blood donors Stephen and Carol Wirick have taken their synchronicity to an extreme. Not only have both reached the milestone of 175 lifetime blood donations, but they did it on the same day.
There was no elaborate special planning in mind. They simply made their regular apheresis appointments for Tuesday, Nov. 26 at the downtown Dayton Community Blood Center (CBC). Technically, you could say Stephen reached the milestone first. He was in the Donor Café eating cookies as Carol continued her platelet donation.
It may seem like a simply stroll toward their harmonious milestone, but in truth they leap-frogged and criss-crossed each other over the years at an often frenzied pace before their unlikely intersection at 175 LTD. Both had busy professional careers, with Stephen as a civilian engineer at Wright Patterson Air Force Base and Carol as a registered nurse. Throw in Stephen’s passion for running 50-mile “ultra-marathons” and Carol as the marathon-mom of five children, and you can see how their schedules might get complicated.
“I probably started donating when I was going to the University of Dayton,” Stephen said. “I think I had around 100 lifetime donations before I started donating apheresis. I started apheresis when I was asked if I wanted to be on the bone marrow transplant list. I said yes, and that’s when they got my name for platelets. After I started giving platelets,” he said to Carol, “You said you would try it.”
“I donated at Good Sam’s (Good Samaritan Hospital), that’s where I started,” said Carol. “I worked at Good Sam for 12 years then I took off 20 years and had five kids. There were a lot of years when I was pregnant!”
When Carol wasn’t donating because of pregnancy Stephen might surge ahead. Ironically, Stephen’s love of running helped Carol keep pace with his donating. “When I run I don’t always give as much if it was before races,” he said. “I ran the JFK 50-mile Ultra-Marathon for the 15th straight year, that’s 750 miles. And I ran other ultra-marathons.”
“For a while he would give more often,” said Carol, “but now we’re on the same sequence.” Carol works part-time as an RN at Fidelity Healthcare. Stephen retired about a year and a half ago after 38 years at WPAFB. “Now that I’m retired we can either both come, or one of us will come,” said Stephen. “They’ll tolerate me better if I bring her too!”
Stephen also concedes that in one sense, Carol is actually ahead of him. “I have a low platelet count so I can only give single platelet donations,” he said. But Carol has a high count and she does double donations.”
The Wiricks lead the way as one of the most closely matched donor couples. Two days after their joint milestone donations, they had the rare chance to lead the way together in Miamisburg’s popular Thanksgiving Day road race. “We’re leading the one-mile at the Turkey Trot,” said Stephen. “We’ll both be in a golf cart – with a life turkey in the back!”