A Neighborhood Hero

2012 Leap Day Storm Assestment

On July 2, 2012 Dennis Rutledge, a longtime volunteer with the American Red Cross; Southern Missouri Region, will be making his 500th blood donation to the Red Cross at the Blood Center located at 313 E. Battlefield, Suite B.

Because he cares to donate, Dennis has saved up to 1500 people with his donations!

Dennis made his first blood donation while in college in 1959. He said “It was a good experience. I think one thing that keeps me giving is that it’s so easy for me. I don’t mind a little sting; it’s worth the discomfort to help someone.” And there are plenty of people in need. Every year in the United States, five million people need blood making it every couple of seconds that someone requires blood to survive.

So how, in 53 years, did Dennis go from 1 to 500 donations? Well he started to rotate between giving regular blood which you can donate every two months, and giving Platelets which can be given every 2 weeks. He said donating blood components speeds things up a bit.

When asked why he gives blood so often he said “I know that blood cannot be manufactured, it must be given by other humans, so I am doing what needs to be done to help others. It makes you feel good.” Dennis is completely correct when he says the only way to get the blood that we need is through donations from others. Every year the Red Cross holds more than 200,000 blood drives all over the country since 1940 to help meet the high demand for blood.
Have you donated lately? Dennis says he encourages everyone to donate; it’s quick and easy and if you are apprehensive about donating, visit your local Red Cross and talk to the attendants and people who have donated. He says, not only do we need those already donating to return; we need new donors to replace those who can no longer give. Research shows that only three percent of the United States population gives blood regularly, so the need is there and it’s a great way to give back to the community.
We asked Dennis if he would continue to donate after he hit the 500thdonation mark, he said “Absolutely! There is no upper age limit, so until someone tells me to stop, I will donate as long as I am able”. Dennis is a true neighborhood hero that has helped so many people with his blood donations and he has a challenge for all Red Cross members and everyone in the community, “With the heat and vacations, July is a slow month for donations, so if you have not given within two months, do it!”
Story by: Elise Ayers, Intern
Photo by: Nigel Holderby

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