Back in October, Ernie Yoder reached a milestone that few blood donors have achieved: he reached the 10-gallon mark for his lifetime, his 80th pint-sized unit of donations.
Yoder, president of the Newberg Toastmasters Club, encouraged others to donate in his speech after achieving 10 gallons. He posed for a photo with two five-gallon buckets, although the buckets did not contain his donations, which took decades to achieve. In a phone conversation Jan. 6, he said his achievement was "easy" and thinks more folks should consider donating blood, especially during the pandemic when numbers are even lower.
"It's been a lifelong event, of course, and 10 gallons is hard to reach," Yoder said. "But there's plenty of people that have done more and if people donated several times a year there wouldn't be the national blood shortage that we're seeing. Very low numbers of the population donate blood and I wish more people would."
In order to be eligible to donate blood, a person needs to be between 18 and 75 years old and in good health. The Red Cross relies upon donations and 36,000 units are needed daily in the United States. Younger generations are not well represented in the blood donation arena, so those who are donating — who are often aging out — believe greater awareness and participation is needed to ensure an adequate blood supply is available.
Yoder started when he was 18 and is now 62 years old. He has 13 years of eligibility as a blood donor remaining and plans to continue up until that point. People who are eligible can do so every eight weeks. More information on the process is available on the Red Cross website at redcrossblood.org The site offers statistics and other facts on donating. Red Cross blood drives occur almost daily, including some weekend drives, and locations exist throughout the Willamette Valley.
"It's not a difficult thing to do and I like to do it because it's a great way to give," Yoder said. "It helps a lot of people. I did it here and there over the years to pick up my gallon count and I've done it more in recent years to try and get to the 10-gallon mark. You can do it until you're 75, so I've got a few more gallons left in me."
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