DAYTON — Beavercreek donor Russell Jenkins and his sister Judy are twins, but their birthdays are a day apart because Russell waited past midnight, about 40 minutes later, to be born. Russell exercised that same patience as he waited until his 67th birthday Feb. 11 to make his milestone 200th lifetime donation at the Dayton Community Blood Center.
Russell is a whole blood donor who has conscientiously donated when eligible, averaging six donations per year. Waiting a few days for his 200th meant he could donate side-by-side with his brother Larry Jenkins and his friend Robert Allen who he worked with at the GM truck and bus plant in Moraine.
It was “baby brother” Larry’s 152nd lifetime donation. Russell and Robert have been donating together for 18 years and it was Robert’s 47th donation.
Russell easily remembers the beginning of his “Donor for Life” journey. “I can tell you the year: 1971,” he said. “I was talking with a friend of mine. We were both stockmen down at Rike’s. He had just gotten back from Vietnam. He was a medic.”
That friendship helped Russell understand how necessary blood can be to saving lives. Russell donated at mobile blood drives at the GM plant then became a regular donor at the Dayton CBC. He spent 30 years with GM and retired when the plant shut-down in 2008.
“I’ve been lucky,” he said about the good health that has allowed him to keep a dedicated donation schedule. “I think giving blood helps with that.”
He remembers donating when his father-in-law needed blood. He also feels a special calling to donate as often as he can. His blood type is O negative, making him a “universal donor” for all patients in need. He is also a “baby donor” because he tests negative for CMV, the common cytomegalovirus. Hospitals prefer CMV-negative blood for transfusion to infants, children and other immune-deficient patients.
“A nurse told me the value of my blood and that they gave my blood to kids,” said Russell. “That’s what kept me coming back – they’re innocent.”
Connect with Community Blood Center for the latest information and services at www.GivingBlood.org.