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Atascadero veteran who received life-saving blood donation in battle donates 740th pint of blood

Posted at 6:44 AM, Dec 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-19 09:49:50-05

In a room full of blood donors at Vitalant in San Luis Obispo, a familiar face peered up from behind his book as he donated his 740th pint of blood.

"It saves lives," David Black, an Atascadero resident, said.

Vitalant Donor Recruitment Dir. Mona Kleman said the number of donations tend to decline this time of year.

"Just because of the flu and cold season, people are busy and traveling," Kleman said.

Vitalant depends on dedicated return donors like Black and new donors who come in during the Gift of Life Blood Drive, which is going on now, to keep inventory full.

According to Kleman, each donation can help up to three people.

At his appointment this week, Black settled in for a lengthier donation of platelets, which takes about two hours compared to the typical 30 minute whole blood donation.

"Platelets are needed in cancer cases," Black said.

Platelets are also used to treat victims of major trauma.

As a soldier fighting in Vietnam, Black was one of those patients.

"I was wounded on three different days in Vietnam in six months and the last time, in the course of my hospital stay, I got like - in one day - 10 pints of blood," Black said.

That same life-saving donation is now a tradition for Black and his fellow veteran Robert Ryan, who typically sit side-by-side in the reclining chairs.

"Seeing the same people over and over like David, it's like seeing a friend you haven't seen in a few weeks," Vitalant Donor Recruitment Dir. Mona Kleman said. "It's always great to see him."

Kleman recruits donors, which is especially challenging this time of yaer.

But with the help of committed donors like Black and new donors alike, Kleman said the gift of life keeps giving.

Donors who give blood during the Gift of Life Drive will receive $10 to each the movie theater and F. McLintocks in San Luis Obispo.

The drive lasts through Dec. 31.