Wendell Clark seemed bewildered when he emerged from screening prior to his milestone 600th lifetime blood donation and was greeted by cheering donors and Community Blood Center (CBC) staff members Thursday, Oct. 24. He walked past them into the Donor Room, where he found the wall above his donor bed plastered with 600 paper dolls with blood drop heads. “It’s just another donation!” he said, smiling shyly with embarrassment.
Wendell did expect some fanfare for his milestone. He’s been an ambassador for CBC who has thrown out the first pitch at a Dayton Dragons game and been honored as a “Community All-Star.” Still, he was surprised by the TV news cameras and interviews. “I guess I’ve been blessed and been pretty healthy,” he explained. “It’s just something I can do to help out my fellow man.”
Wendell started donating in the early 80’s and had made 74 whole blood donations before being asked to become an apheresis donor by Collections Services Director Kay Ollech. He commonly donates platelets which are critically needed by cancer patients, transplant recipients, and trauma victims. His AB-positive blood type makes him a universal platelet donor.
“You’re the one that kept coming after we got you in here that first time,” Kay said to Wendell as she presented him with a “Donor for Life – 600 LTD” certificate, “and you’ve been coming ever since.”
Wendell is also a CMV-negative donor, which makes his donations important for transfusion to newborns, people with weakened immune systems, and organ transplant patients. One of his proudest accomplishments was donating specifically for a little Centerville girl named Molly who needed blood during bone marrow transplants, and seeing her grow healthy.
Wendell lives in Lewisburg and works at Neaton Auto Products Manufacturing in Eaton. His appointment routine is to go directly from work to the Dayton CBC. He enjoys reading during his platelet donations and his favorite author is Louis L’Amour. That inspired the western theme for his celebration party, including a bright red cowboy hat and a giant “600” made of cupcakes.
On July 25, 2011 when Wendell was honored at the Dayton Dragons baseball game he had made 535 lifetime donations and said, “My goal is to hit 600, but if I can stay healthy, I can hit 800.” With 600 accomplished he can get back to making “just another donation,” perhaps saving another life, and taking the first step to his next milestone.