StoryCorps: By Age 85, She'd Given 23 Gallons Of Blood Lillian Bloodworth, now 92, says when she first started to give blood, other donors would read her name tag and ask if that was really her name or if it was a gimmick for the blood bank.

By Age 85, She'd Given 23 Gallons Of Blood: 'Because I Can'

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

NOEL KING, HOST:

All right. It's time now for StoryCorps and a story about donating blood from a 92-year-old woman named Lillian Bloodworth.

LILLIAN BLOODWORTH: When I first started, I would have donors read my name tag and ask if that was really my name or was that a gimmick for the blood bank (laughter).

KING: It's really her name. Lillian has donated more than 20 gallons of blood over the past 50 years. The average person has about a gallon and a half of blood in their body, so that's a lot of donations. Bloodworth came to StoryCorps in Florida with her husband, John.

BLOODWORTH: At 2 years of age, I developed pneumonia and at that point received my first blood donation from my older brother. It did stick with me because I can remember we were on side-by-side beds. He talked to me while they were doing it. So even way back then, my kinfolk were giving blood. I started this because our eldest son had had surgery and had received blood a lot. So I thought it might be nice to try and put some of the blood back into the bank. So I do it every 56 days, not one day shorter.

JOHN BLOODWORTH: How do people react when they find out how much you've donated?

BLOODWORTH: They are impressed. One time, I went to give, and they told me my pressure was too low. And the phlebotomist, the ones who draw the blood, knew that I wanted desperately to give. So she said, tell you what, drink a cup of coffee and walk around the building real fast and then come right back in. So I drank my cup of coffee, and I walked around the building and went back in. And she took my blood pressure, and it was high enough, so they did me real fast.

BLOODWORTH: Why have you continued to donate for so many years, though?

BLOODWORTH: Because I can. I see no reason why I shouldn't. And every time you give a pint, they tell you, well, you have probably saved three more people. I do get quite a boost out of doing that. Something will tell me when to stop, and until I get that signal, I'll keep on going.

KING: That was 92-year-old Lillian Bloodworth and her husband, John. Lillian stopped donating blood a couple years ago. The blood bank told her that she needed it more than they did. That interview will be archived in the Library of Congress.

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