published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Gallons of good will
THERESA CAMPBELL | Staff Writer
Some 5,808 people can thank Lake County residents Lowell Collins and Mary Lory for saving their lives.
"They are local super heroes," said Pat Michaels of Florida's Blood Centers, praising the pair for being among two of 13 active donors who have donated 100 or more gallons of blood in the 20 counties that Florida Blood Centers serves.
The pair gives more time -- two hours every two weeks -- in donating platelets over a whole blood donation, where the higher volume platelets are vital in keeping many cancer patients alive, as well as transplants and trauma patients and those undergoing open-heart surgery. Premature infants and children being treated for cancer or facing heart surgery also need blood and platelets from donors of all blood types.
Lory, 74, donates blood regularly at the Clermont branch. She broke away from her regular routine on Tuesday to donate the same time and place as Collins in Leesburg.
"He's my hero; he's a great guy," said Lory, who first met Collins when she worked as a phlebotomist at the Leesburg branch and drew his blood.
Lory reached the 117-gallon mark with her blood donation.
"It doesn't hurt and that's what keeps people from donating," she said.
"They think it's going to hurt. Look at me; I'm not hurting," she said, waving her arms and smiling.
"I look forward to doing this," said Collins, 83, of Umatilla, who holds the distinction of being the oldest and most active blood donor in Central Florida.
He made his 1,002nd donation on Tuesday, reaching the 125-gallon level, when he donated platelets at the Leesburg branch of Florida's Blood Centers, a milestone celebrated with a cake reception.
The first time Collins donated was decades ago.
"I was asked to donate blood for a minister that was in surgery," he recalled. "After that, I just started donating and it just got to be a habit."
He considers donating blood to be his "civic duty," and he wishes more people would roll up their sleeves.
"If they are able, they should come out and donate," Collins said. "There's always a need for blood. There's only like 5 percent of the people who donate regularly and there's 65 percent of people that are going to need blood sometime in their lifetime, so I always try to encourage people to donate."
More residents can get involved in donating blood on Friday, during the Battle of the Badge competition between Leesburg firefighters and police officers. There will be two Big Red mobile collection buses at the corner of Magnolia and Canal streets. One bus will receive blood donations from residents on behalf of the fire department. The other bus will represent the police department.
Florida Blood Centers said making a whole blood donation is safe, simple and takes very little time -- often about 30 minutes to an hour. Photo identification is required.
"Your contribution helps to meet growing demands from medical patients in need of blood in this part of Central Florida," said Robert Sargent, spokesman for Leesburg. "A single blood donation can help to save the lives of up to three people."
FBC said most donations are supplied to local hospitals and medical facilities within two to three days. Some blood also can assist rescue efforts from natural disasters and other emergencies around the country.