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World record blood donor keeps on giving

Howard Drew, left, has teamed up in the past with former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher and the National Institutes of Health to promote blood donation.
Howard Drew, left, has teamed up in the past with former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher and the National Institutes of Health to promote blood donation.  


From Rea Blakey
CNN Medical Unit

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Howard Drew has been donating blood for 50 of his 77 years.

"It makes me feel very good. I get a high," he said. "Every time I give I feel very good about it."

And now Drew has a world record to show for it. He is the 2003 Guinness world record holder for most blood donated -- with 213 units, or about 28 gallons, to his credit.

He started donating after receiving a transfusion for a war injury. "I was given blood in World War II when I was in an accident," Drew said. "And I tried to replenish the supply, and then I got into the habit of giving blood. And I've just been giving ever since."

Drew most often donates at the National Institutes of Health's blood bank in Bethesda, Maryland, outside Washington. He gives every eight weeks.

"When they started that blood donor hall of fame at NIH, my picture was the first one there," said the retired Washington reference librarian. "That motivated me to continue giving."

Regular donors such as Drew are the foundation of the nation's supply system. When a patient needs a transfusion, it's the blood already on the shelves that will be used.

"It's critical that people come out not just when there's a disaster but regularly, often, once or twice a year," said Dr. Harvey Klein, who oversees the NIH blood bank. "If everybody who's eligible would do that, we'd have no problem with shortages."

In 1995, Drew received a certificate for surpassing 17 gallons of donated blood. By now, he's topping his 28th gallon, which the American Red Cross estimates has saved two to three dozen lives.

"I've given about 220 pints, and I hope to give about 250, 270 if I live long enough," he said.

Because there's no limit to how long or how much blood a person can give, Drew could keep breaking his world record.



 
 
 
 






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