Blood donor may be first in county to hit 50 gallons
George Harper is about as red-blooded as they come.
He should know, because in the last 43 years, the Nevada City bon vivant has seen 401 pints of the life-giving liquid travel into intravenous bags, to be donated to those in need.
On Friday, the Grass Valley Blood Center feted Harper, 62, with a cake, T-shirt and 50 balloons, one for every gallon of blood he’s donated.
Harper first donated blood as a 19-year-old at a Placerville blood bank. A friend’s mother needed blood after a pregnancy, and Harper gladly gave.
“I feel terrific,” Harper said Sunday. “It makes me feel good, and you know you’re saving someone else’s life. The doughnuts and the cookies are just a perk.”
In addition to his standing appointment at the Grass Valley Blood Center, Harper volunteers there once a week. He is also known to many as the organizer of the Constitution Day and Fourth of July parades in Nevada City and Grass Valley
Harper claims to be the first in Nevada County to donate 400 pints of blood.
It’s now a race to see if he can top some of his counterparts in Sacramento, a few of whom have topped 100 donated gallons of blood.
“After you’ve donated 30 to 35 gallons, it becomes a fun race. You’re almost like an extended family (of blood donors).”
Harper was grateful to help on the night of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. “It was fantastic that night. We had to turn people away,” he said.
Harper’s wife, Pat, is no slouch, either. In the past 15 years or so, she’s donated 30 gallons of blood.
It’s old hat for her now, too.
“Sometimes, I don’t even know they’ve stuck the needle in me,” Pat Harper said. She thinks donating platelets – which can be done up to twice a month – is a special treat. “We get to watch movies – it’s wonderful,” she said of the 21/2-hour process.
Blood can be donated every six weeks, and donors who wish to give plasma can do it up to 40 times a year, George Harper said.
To those who may be scared or squeamish, Harper says there’s no need to be.
“Don’t be afraid. Try it once or twice,” he said.
Help save a life
To donate blood, call 1-866-822-5663 or visit the blood bank at 11759 Sutton Way, Grass Valley.
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