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Ovation: Harold Mendenhall Donates 100 Gallons Of Blood.

05/31/2013

Publication1In my fifth grade science class our teacher, Mr. Frank, thought it would be a good idea to include in his lesson plan some hands-on and practical instruction during a chapter on the body’s circulatory system.  We studied the subject for an entire week and, to conclude the chapter, he announced that he would donate blood.  Furthermore, he would do it in an assembly so that we could all watch.

When it was time for his donation to take place, all the children gathered in the lunchroom where a nurse was waiting beside a gurney.  We were instructed to sit on the floor, in a typical elementary school semi-circle, in front of the gurney.  Never one to pass up an opportunity to become teacher’s pet, I planted myself front and center beside the gurney.  Mr. Frank climbed up onto the gurney as he and the nurse explained, step by step, what was happening and what should be expected to happen next.

I watched in horror as the first drops of Mr. Frank’s blood dribbled down the tube inches away from my face and landed in the plastic bag hanging on the gurney’s side.  Within moments I went pale, my eyes rolled backward into my head and I passed out with a clunk of my skull on the linoleum floor.  From that day on, I was known as “that kid who fainted when Mr. Frank gave blood”.

About five years after Mr. Frank’s exhibition, in July of 1977, Harold Mendenhall began donating blood.  The eighty-four-year-old South Florida man recently reached a rare and impressive milestone by donating his 100th gallon of blood.  Mendenhall began donating blood when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and, when she died seven years later, he found himself lost.  Giving blood helped him cope with the loss of his wife and, later, two sons.

“Giving blood can only be done by a human being, so that’s been my payback for my career and my good health and all the blessings I’ve had.” – Harold Mendenhall

Apparently, even though he’s donated blood more than four hundred times, he still won’t watch the needle slide into his vein.  And neither would I.  I understand the importance of blood donation and my family supports the efforts of the American Red Cross.  Our giving, however, is monetary and never involves bodily fluids.  I admire and appreciate the donations of others but I just can’t give blood without remembering Mr. Frank and the sound of my head hitting that lunchroom floor.

Do you give blood?

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9 Comments
  1. I would if I could but legally I can’t. So this Ovation should be followed by a Diatribe tomorrow.

    I hope you find this an Ovation: Passenger Pickup

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  2. Anonymous permalink

    I started giving back in the 1960’s. Afterwards they would give you cookies and a bottle of beer. I can no longer donate due to irradiation treatment, but I gave a pint , sometimes two, for over 30 years. And, they stopped giving the beers!!!!

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  3. My father is also a 100 gallon donor.

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  4. Due to medications, I do not give blood, but my hubby gives blood every 5 weeks. He has more than 25 years of giving blood as did his mother before him. Both of them have a somewhat rare blood type, so they both felt it was their duty to give all the time to make sure there was always a supply. His mother had awards from the Red Cross for her numerous donations. Unfortunately, Red Cross no longer is in charge of blood donations here in Canada – it’s now Canadian Blood Services, so hubby had to sort of start his totals over, although they gave him some credit for his Red Cross donations.

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    • What a wonderful gift to the world! I imagine those with rare blood types might feel a bit more obligated to give. Two generations of generous donation! Imagine the lives the two of them may have saved!

      Thanks for sharing his story!

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  5. What a great story. I do and have, but it was more frequently at one time with an employer who had folks come to the office for the drive. You do take pride in that you are doing something for the greater good. I don’t look at the needle either. Take care, BTG

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