Ashland man celebrates 50 years of blood donations

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CENTRALIA - Where would a man celebrating a half century of giving blood go to celebrate?

Another blood drive of course.

Ashland resident Patrick Lee walked into his first blood drive on November 15, 1968 as a 17-year-old freshman at MU.

Remembering his wait in line at the student union, he says to this day he's still not sure what made him show up.

"Undoubtedly, I saw a flyer on campus that mentioned a blood drive," he said. "I knew nothing about it. I thought, 'I can do that', and so I did it."

Whatever the reason, Lee is still going strong 50 years and 197 donation sessions later.

"I can be of benefit to someone else, perhaps a life saving benefit at really just the cost of some time and a little bit of inconvenience and a little bit of discomfort," he said.

Lee said his 50 years of giving have all added up.

"A little thing done time after time after time ends up being a big thing," he said. "I'm looking forward to next spring when I'm getting my 25 gallon pin."

Craig Jackson works as a donor recruiter for the Red Cross. He said donors like Lee are a dream come true.

"We love them, for lack of a better way to put it," he said. "They're our bread and butter, so to speak."

Jackson said donors like Lee are few and far between, making contributions like his that much more important.

"The challenge is always to get new donors into the system," he said. "When we have our repeat donors that are coming back and coming back as often as possible, it really helps us keep a stable blood supply throughout the year."

Lee said he donates because everyone needs blood.

"One of the media people emailed me back and he said 'I've had blood transfusions twice in my life. People like me are alive because of people like you,"' he said.