Michael Buck: Generously giving gallons of blood

If it weren't for a freak accident that happened when he was 14 years old, Information Resources' Michael Buck might never have become quite so determined to play the part he does now in saving other people's lives.

  • simple fall on the ice while frolicking one winter day in his upstate New York hometown left Buck with broken ribs, a ruptured liver and pneumonia. The teenager went through 10 pints of blood in one day and spent two months in the hospital recovering.

Residents of Jamestown rallied behind Buck and donated blood on his behalf. "Really, people I didn't even know donated blood to keep me alive," he says, thinking back. He's still a bit in awe.

Years later, when Buck became a re-entry student at UC Davis, those memories of how his hometown stood behind him would inspire him to do the same. The Banner project director has now donated more than 40 gallons (320 pints) worth of blood and is an active volunteer for BloodSource's Davis Blood Center.

Staff members like Buck have helped make the UC Davis community the leading organization for blood donation in a 19-county, 41-hospital Northern California region, said BloodSource account manager Paul St. Geme.

St. Geme called campus employees the "backbone" of BloodSource's successful Cal Aggie Blood drives - held in September, October, January, April and July. During the 2001-'02 academic year, about 3,300 campus affiliates registered to give blood, and some 2,700 pints were donated, St. Geme said.

The next drive is set for 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Oct. 15-16 in Freeborn Hall.

Buck gave his first donation back in 1988 during an effort to find a bone marrow transplant match for a fellow UC Davis student. Buck didn't know the student but recalled how he, too, had been helped by strangers as a youth.

Lab workers determined that Buck wasn't a match. They also found he had a very high platelet count - so much so that his donations of one pint would yield three pints worth of platelets, a component in blood that helps speed clotting.

For the past 14 years, he has made platelet donations as often as allowed - every other week - at the blood center, located in University Mall off Russell Boulevard. The process takes about two hours. Blood is extracted from one arm, platelets are separated, and red blood cells and plasma are returned via a tube in his other arm. About six times a year Buck also donates red blood cells.

Buck's sanguineous generosity has earned him a seat in BloodSource's 2,000-member 10-Gallon Club. Membership is made up residents from Fresno to Redding who have each donated no less than 80 pints of blood. As a past secretary, Buck has helped the group organize blood drives throughout the region.

Celebrating his fourth anniversary with UC Davis today, Buck manages a group of 18 Banner programmers at the Chiles Road offices. "Our goal is to tailor Banner to work for UC Davis, so we don't have to change systems to work the way Banner does."

Buck and his wife, Sara - who recently retired after 22 years with the law school - moved to Davis in 1980. By the end of that decade, Buck had given up a 20-year career as a master automotive technician and had earned his degree from UC Davis in philosophy.

Philosophy? The discipline relates more closely to programming than one might think, Buck says. "It teaches you to think logically, and that's the basis for computers and computer management - it's all logic."

What's your personal philosophy?

Giving back and helping others when you can. In many ways, people have stopped being considerate of others - even in the little things, like using turn signals. It's just not healthy.

What's your work philosophy?

To facilitate bringing change. Moving people into the communication age - to get people using computers more and learning more efficient ways to do things.

Who inspires you?

Aristotle. He was so interested in science and understanding how all the forces around us work: the causes and effects of our world.

What's the best post-blood-do-nation pick-me-up?

Quadruple lattes. I bought a community coffee grinder and espresso maker for my office. It's perfect for brewing dark French roast from the Natural Food Coop. But Caffinos on Richards Boulevard will do in a pinch. Also cheese pizza from Café Italia or vegetarian pizza from Steve's Pizza.

What's your guilty pleasure?

Chocolate. I'm a chocoholic. Especially chocolate with quadruple lattes.

Read any good books lately?

The Pillars of the Earth is my favorite book. It's about a stone mason and his family who live around the year 1000. But Dick Francis is my favorite author.

And what's your favorite movie?

Fried Green Tomatoes because it covers such a wide range of emotions. I enjoy good character studies.

What's your favorite campus spot?

The Pub Restaurant. I've been a vegetarian for more than 25 years. They have good vegetable soups all the time and always a couple of good dishes for vegetarians.

What something you wish you could change about your work?

Being so far off campus. We don't have as much contact with clients or students as we'd like. It would be so nice to just be able to walk up and ask how a system is working for them or if they like the way their transcripts are printed.

Media Resources

Amy Agronis, Dateline, (530) 752-1932,

Primary Category