There’s a “Sister Act” that takes place at Community Blood Center (CBC) when sisters Melinda Flora from Covington and Nancy Yount from West Milton make one of their regular visits to Dayton to donate platelets. It’s always an act of giving and bonding as they donate side-by-side. On Wednesday, Dec. 11 it included a celebration as Melinda made her milestone 100th lifetime blood donation.
The sisters are easy to recognize in the donor room because they wear the traditional plain dress of long, Quaker-like dresses and bonnets often associated with the Amish and Mennonites.
As Melinda explains, they are actually Old German Baptists. The Old German Baptist Brethren are part of the post-reformation Anabaptists, which include the Amish and Mennonites. The first American congregation was founded in Pennsylvania in 1719. They maintain older customs, dress, and forms of worship and the largest concentration of congregations is in Ohio.
“I started giving whole blood in the early ‘80’s,” Melinda said about her journey to the 100th donation milestone. “A girlfriend moved out here, and she had been giving blood where she lived in Indiana and talked me into coming down.”
Inspired by her friend, Melinda decided to recruit her sister. “She’s the one who got me into it!” said Nancy. The next step for Melinda was to become an apheresis donor, which again became a joint effort with her sister. “They asked me if I wanted to do it and I said ‘That’s fine,’” said Melinda, “and we’ve been doing it together ever since.”
They became regular platelet donors, with Nancy actually taking the lead in donation frequency during times Melinda was unable to donate. Nancy made her 107th lifetime donation on the day of Melinda’s 100th. Donating platelets to help children, trauma, and cancer patients became a way for the sisters to bond.
“We started apheresis at the same time,” said Nancy. “We decided if we were going to come down here, we might as well make it worthwhile and donate platelets. We always donate, then go have lunch.”
So the final part of the Sister Act is to finish with a girls-day-out lunch (although on the day of Melinda’s 100th, Nancy’s husband has come along to join them).
It’s a cold day and Melinda has a simple black, wool sweater over her customary plain dress to ward off the chill. Matching it well is the simple black jacket she received from CBC to mark her milestone. The red and white embroidery on the front of the jacket is a rare departure from the plain dress style. It reads, “Donor for Life – 100 LTD.”