Raymond Swadley has donated 346 pints of blood in his lifetime
By Mariwyn Evans, American Red Cross Volunteer
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn., June 1, 2023 – What can you do with 43 gallons? With water, you can nourish a tomato plant for six weeks. With gas, one could drive from Nashville, Tenn. to Jacksonville, Fla. and back. With donated blood, you would help save the lives of more than 1,000 people.
One Clarksville, Tenn. senior is a living example of the equation above. For 85-year-old Raymond Swadley, donating blood is his way of truly making a difference in his community.
For the past 65 years, the retired postal worker has donated more than 43 gallons of blood through the Red Cross. “By donating blood, you can give people a chance at another birthday, another Christmas, more time to connect with their family or their faith,” Swadley said. Every pint of blood donated can help many people facing medical problems, he notes.
“I see donating as an easy way to help,” says Swadley. “It gives me a psychological lift knowing I have helped someone I do not even know. And I believe it has a physical benefit for me as well” he adds.
He is right. According to research from Columbia University Irving Medical Center, regular blood donation is linked to lower blood pressure and a lower risk for heart attacks.
Consistent in Giving
To give that much blood, you need to start early. Swadley made his first donation on Nov. 3, 1958, while working as a teller in a Cumberland, Md. bank. “One of the bank officers was going to give and asked me to come along,” he recalls. He also remembers accompanying his mother and father when they donated. “When you get started, you do not realize what a wonderful service you are doing for people. When I got my first pin for donating a gallon of blood, it sort of became an obsession,” he remembers.
Swadley continued donating after joining the U.S. Army and being transferred to Ft. Campbell, KY. “It was a lot different in those days. They used glass bottles and rubber tubing to hold the blood,” he recalled.
Today, Swadley can schedule his six yearly donations online. “Now you get this wonderful little email reminding you of the time and which blood drive to go to,” he said. “The Red Cross also sends you an email telling you how your blood is processed and where your blood was used in a hospital.”
“I hope to keep giving as long as my health is good,” he says. “I’ve never suffered any ill effects, and it doesn’t hurt as bad as stubbing your toe,” Swadley said with a laugh. “When I was a younger man, I would come home from donating and mow my lawn. Now I take iron pills, for a few days before I give, and I take it easy for the rest of the day.”
Donating blood, as well as other volunteer work for the Red Cross has become a significant part of Swadley’s life. “I have a scrapbook with the card I received for my first donation and one for each of the 346 pints I’ve donated since then. I also keep the letters and notes I have received,” he added. “When I look back on what I have done that has been worthwhile, I think donating blood may be near the top of the list. Hopefully, people who read this will think so too.”
How to donate blood
To make an appointment, simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Amplify your impact − volunteer!
Another way to support the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross is to become a volunteer blood donor ambassador at Red Cross blood drives. Blood donor ambassadors help greet, check in and thank blood donors to ensure they have a positive donation experience.
Volunteers can also serve as transportation specialists, playing a vital role in ensuring lifesaving blood products are delivered to nearby hospitals. For more information and to apply for either position, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members, and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.