Richard Counts, MD
Class of 1959
Richard Counts could have been a successful actor, writer, musician or businessman, but thankfully for people the world over, he chose to be a physician. He earned his B.A. and M.D. at Washington University Medical School, St. Louis. Internship and residency followed at University Hospital, University of Washington, in Seattle. He spent two years as a clinical associate in Hematology at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, then returned to the University of Washington, from which he retired in 2008 as professor of medicine, Division of Hematology, and became professor emeritus.
Rich established one of the first centers in the U.S. for comprehensive care of hemophilia, a rare, inherited bleeding disorder caused by the lack of a critical blood protein. The Puget Sound Blood Center, of which he was president and CEO, was among the first to produce large quantities of a concentrated form of this protein from volunteer donors. PSBC serves hospitals all over western Washington by providing about 200,000 units of red cells annually for transfusion, and operates a large testing lab which serves four states, performing sensitive DNA testing for infectious agents on donated blood. In 1970, 90% of hemophilia patients were expected to die by the age of 20; today, because of Dr. Counts and others like him, most hemophilia patients enjoy near normal life expectancy and the ability to have careers and families.
Rich and his UW colleagues discovered the most common causes of post-traumatic and postsurgical bleeding and developed techniques for preventing this fearsome complication. These procedures have been widely adopted and have significantly reduced the mortality of post-surgical bleeding. Dr. Counts has published an impressive list of textbooks and peer-reviewed papers