Brookville donor Paul Hawvermale may have scaled a new height with his milestone 150th lifetime blood donation Wednesday, Nov. 6 at the downtown Dayton Community Blood Center (CBC), but it didn’t change his feelings about being a donor. He is still humbled by the generosity of fellow donors, surprised when a stranger thanks him for his gift, and hopeful that more people will make the choice to give blood.
“It’s such a small percentage that donate,” he said as he made his scheduled automated platelet and plasma donation. “I know younger people are so busy these days. I just wish more would take the time.”
Paul’s journey to the 150th donation milestone began with a family tragedy that came at a time of joy. “I got started back in ’68,” he said. “My cousin was supposed to be in our wedding. But he had cancer and needed blood. From then on I kept giving. He died before the wedding. He was just 18, a big, strong farm boy.”
Paul continued as a whole blood donor for years, commonly donating at the CBC mobile blood drives at Brookhaven Retirement Community. He said about four years ago former CBC Apheresis Specialist Marilyn Staker asked him to consider becoming a platelet donor. “I came in and my platelet count was 380 (normal range is 150 to 450) and Marilyn said, ‘You have to! You have to start giving platelets!’”
Paul received a Victorinox wristwatch with “Donor for Life” scripted on the clock face commemorating his 150th donation and it caused him to reflect on previous milestones. He remembered proudly wearing the jacket he received after his 100th donation. “Someday asked he how many it took to get the jacket and I said 100, and he said, “Gosh, I only have five!”
He also remembered the humbling experience of wearing his 100 LTD jacket to a local business and being approached by a stranger. “He said he wanted to thank me,” Paul said. “He told me he had surgery recently and needed four units of blood. He said, ‘Who knows? It might have been yours.’”
Paul balances those memories with the day of his 135th donation. Coincidentally, he was joined in the CBC automated donor area that day by several other “Donors for Life,” including Bert Jones who was making his 500th lifetime donation. Paul and Bert were among a group of six regular apheresis donors who collectively represented an astonishing 1,567 lifetime blood donations.
For Paul, it was a revelation about how donating is both a personal choice and a collective act for a common good. He shook his head and went back to his Kindle Fire. He passes the time during his apheresis donations reading books he downloads from the library or playing Words with Friends. He didn’t need the new wristwatch marking his 150th donation to remind himself about his next appointment. He knows that he will always set aside the time to give more.