Lebanon man, 81, tops 30 gallons in blood

It took 40 years for Paul McCoy to reach the milestone of donating 30 gallons of blood, achieving that goal by the end of 2018. Now he’s working toward 31 gallons.

Since his early 20s, McCoy, 81, of Lebanon, has been regularly donating blood to the American Red Cross. Times were simple in the late 1950s, but McCoy needed a sign to make the decision back then.

“They were just asking for blood donors. I saw the sign, went in, gave blood.”

And he’s been doing it every two months since that day.

The Red Cross honored McCoy Dec. 21 for his contribution with a certificate and pin, noting his contribution is estimated to have saved about 720 lives.

On average, one pint of blood is figured to save about three lives, explained Ken Fitz-Gerald, account manager of the Salem Red Cross team. Donations can be used as whole blood, platelets or plasma, and are used for things such as trauma surgeries, transfusions and cancer research.

“The average human body has 10 pints of blood in it, so if you’re giving up a pint, you just lost 10 percent of your whole body,” he said. “To give up 10 percent of your body so many times is amazing. It’s a big deal. We need more people who give longer.”

Donors are limited in whether they can donate by many factors based on sexual activity, drug use, and countries visited. Only 37 percent of the population is eligible to donate blood, and only 10 percent give, Fitz-Gerald said.

Blood donations are still needed across the states, especially during natural disasters, he said. People don’t think much about its importance until they’re in an accident or other situation where they need blood.

“People who donate on a regular basis or donate a lot are our saviors. Giving 30 gallons is tremendous,” Fitz-Gerald said.

While McCoy’s 30-gallon donation is considered quite a lot, his number is overshadowed by Terry Price of Denton, Texas, who holds the Guinness World Record for 894 liters (236 gallons) donated by 2015.

“I think it’s pretty neat that I got (to 30 gallons),” McCoy said. “I would wish that more people would donate. Blood is highly needed.”