It's the middle of the morning and Anne Brodke is all stretched out and snuggled underneath a warm blanket, her cell phone is turned off and she's reading her favorite book.

Being selfless is not without its advantages.

Anne is a regular at the Associated Regional & University Pathologists (ARUP)c blood donor lab at Research Park. Every other month or so you can find her here donating her blood and, more specifically, her platelets.

A couple of years ago she came to give blood in the conventional manner and found out about the constant need for platelets — the tiny cells within the blood stream that make blood clot. Platelets are in particular demand among cancer patients undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy.

Donating platelets is more complicated than giving whole blood. It involves a machine that separates the platelets out of your blood and then returns the platelet-less blood back to your body.

The nice part about that is you don't lose any red blood cells in the process.

But it does take a while — at least an hour to donate one unit of platelets. Sometimes two hours.

So platelet donors stretch out and get comfortable. They read a book or magazine or watch a movie. At ARUP, they have 2,000 movie titles on hand for that very purpose.

"Personally, I like to use the time to catch up on my reading," says Anne, looking up from a copy of "Stones From the River" by Ursula Hegi.

Anne downplays the service she's providing. "I'm a stay-at-home mom with kids in school, so I can do this," she explains. "It's just become part of my routine. And if I forget to come, the recruiters will call just to remind me. They're very friendly but very relentless."

Her husband, she says, is a physiian, "So I'm aware a little bit of the need."

Anne doesn't look old enough to have teenagers, but she does — a 14-year-old and 16-year-old, who for the moment are totally on their own

"This is good for my kids, too," she smiles. "They know they can't reach me when I'm doing this."

In the room next door, where half a dozen telephone recruiters sit in their carrels and repeatedly run through their lists of previous platelet providers, they can't say enough about the Anne Brodkes of this world.

"The regular donors are wonderful; they are what makes it happen," says Sally Chapman, taking a break from the phone lines. "They don't do it because there's something in it for them, they do it to help others."

Sally's colleague, Carmen Bailey,

adds from the next carrel, "We have people who take the bus here to give platelets. One guy rides his bike from Bountiful in the summers. We have people who, when we don't call them, they call us."

And besides taking a while, giving platelets, they point out, is not just a sometimes thing. Blood in general has a short shelf life; whole blood lasts just 42 days before it's useless for a transfusion. But platelets last for only five days, and the hospitals that ARUP supplies — University Hospital, Primary Children's Medical Center, Huntsman Cancer Institute and Shriners Hospital — need from 20 to 25 units of platelets a day.

It means that 20 to 30 qualified donors need to walk through the ARUP door daily to keep supplies at a satisfactory level.

"We really scrape sometimes," says Carmen. "Sometimes we beg and plead. But not that often."

That's because of people like Anne.

By now, Anne's hour is up. She's having a glass of juice and a biscuit in the refreshment lounge.

There are plenty of goodies to choose from. Every week, explains blood bank community relations director Lance Bandley, ARUP buys baked goods and beverages in bulk from Costco to keep the donors fed and happy.

Outside, a snowstorm has moved in and is peppering the foothills just beyond the blood bank's windows.

"It's beautiful to watch it fall," says the woman who just gave away her platelets. "And the best part is I don't have to shovel it. Because after you do this, you're not supposed to lift."

Yet another perk for giving.

Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to [email protected] and faxes to 801-237-2527.