Moraine donor Bobby McIntosh knows his life has hit the jackpot in so many ways. His milestone 100th lifetime donation on March 7 at the Dayton Community Blood Center was just the latest reason to celebrate. It’s a tribute to the “re-birthday” he shares with his daughter Sara, who owes her life to blood donations.
Some will recognize Bobby for his run of good luck in 2011. He visited the Dayton CBC to donate less than a week after winning $43,000 on the Cash Explosion TV game show. He knew then that his true good fortune had come five years earlier with the medical technology that saved his daughter.
“That’s how I got started,” Bobby said. In 2006, Sara was a 19-year old college freshman when a virus attacked her heart, causing it to nearly fail. “She crashed and they rushed her into open-heart surgery right away,” said Bobby.
Her only chance was to allow the heart to rest and recover. Her doctors massaged the heart then connected it to the relatively new BiVAD biventricular assist device.
“They let it do the work.” Bobby said. “On the third day they said, ‘We think we have a very good chance of saving her heart.’ The next day they surprised me with a birthday party for me.”
After seven days her heart could beat on its own without the BiVAD. “Now we celebrate our ‘birthday’ together, of her coming off the heart machine,” Bobby said.
“We started donating blood, my wife Nancy and I,” said Bobby. “It woke us up. Right after she got out of the hospital we signed up and we’ve been donating ever since.”
Bobby donated whole blood until 2010 then became an apheresis donor. “I asked about it,” he said. “I said I’d like to give platelet sand plasma too because that way I could replace everything my daughter needed.”
He has replaced the blood Sara used and more. He averaged about a dozen donations per year, made 15 donations in 2017 and reached his 100 milestone with his sixth donation of 2018.
Sara is now 31, married and has a three-year old daughter named Isabel. Bobby is a proud grandpa, showing off photos on his mobile phone.
The good fortune of his Cash Explosion winnings helped him purchase a 142-acre farm in Lewisburg, Kentucky. The land had been in the family since 1872. “I built a pole barn on the farm and it’s beautiful!” he said.
His proudest legacy is as a blood donor. He remembers being asked to make a special donation soon after retiring from GM in 2008. “They said I was a perfect match for a child at Dayton Children’s, so I came up and gave double reds,” Bobby said. “They sent it up to Children’s right away. It was a good feeling.”