GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – A Robersonville native made his 145th donation of blood in Greenville, bringing his grand total to more than 18 gallons.
Kirk Whitley has donated pints of his blood to the American Red Cross since November 1968.
On Saturday, he rolled up his sleeves again, saving 3 adults or 6 children’s lives with each contribution.
He added one more souvenir t-shirt to his collection and made his final donation of 2021.
He says a lot has changed since his first donation as a high school student.
“Instead of pricking your finger they did your ear and got the iron reading out of your ear,” he laughed.
Now getting his finger pricked every 56 days, 6 times a year, he has quite the collection of scrapbooking treasures to tell the tale.
“Every time, you get a little sticker that tells you when you do give,” said Whitley. “I’ve got a curio cabinet that is glass and I’ve got no telling the stickers that are on that curio cabinet.”
While the country experiences a blood shortage every year around the holidays, the need is especially dire because of the devastating tornadoes that ripped through the Midwest last week.
The American Red Cross told WITN that most donors only contribute once or twice a year.
“Donors like Kirk are the heart of our organization and help maintain that healthy blood supply,” said Cally Edwards of the Red Cross Eastern North Carolina Regional Chapter. “Red Cross blood donors can give up to six times a year, every 56 days. Kirk is one of those examples that does that.”
Whitley is happy to help anyone in need in this way. “But in return, they are helping me,” he said. “This just makes me a better person.”
Others have been inspired by his work, sending him personalized gifts as he hits his milestones.
“I went to the post office one day and this is what I got,” he said holding back tears and holding up a custom t-shirt. “I’ve used these principles: desire, discipline, dedication, and determination. And it has worked for me.”
Whitley doesn’t plan to stop at 145 pints.
“Next year at this time I’m going to have 150 pints, in 2022. Then in 2023, I hope to have 156 pints. In 2024, I’m looking at the big Super bowl, the gold. I’m going to have 162 pints–20 gallons.– and we’ll kind of go from there.”
If you would like to donate this month, WITN is sponsoring a blood drive at the ENC Blood Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, December 22, 2021.
Both Power Red and traditional blood donations will be accepted.
A Power Red donation collects the red cells but returns most of the plasma and platelets to the donor. These donors must meet specific eligibility requirements and have A Negative, B Negative, or O type blood.
A tradition blood donation is the most common, during which approximately one pint of “whole blood” is given.
The ENC Donor Center is located at 700 Cromwell Dr. Greenville, NC. 27858.
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