“Mr. Yust, recipient of the ten gallon key ring, presented in appreciation for his 80 donations of blood— Gave the first pint in our present program on May 29, 1952— Other members of his family are blood donors— Wife, Glenna has given 7 pints; Daughters, Anna—7— Nancy—2— and son William, now serving in the U.S. Air Force gave 5 times in Joplin before entering military service.” — A letter dated September 5, 1969, by the American Red Cross to a Mr. Yust.
Mr. Yust may appear to be an ordinary blood donor to you. However, to me he is my grandpa. My grandpa who helped to save 363 lives through his blood donations, which is 15 gallons and one pint of blood to be exact. And did I mention he fought in World War II also? He is just an all around hero. However, I did not know about any of his work with the American Red Cross until after he passed away in 2009. He never talked about his charitable work because he didn’t seek recognition for it. My grandpa donated blood because of his desire to help people, not because he wanted people to think highly of him.
What is more startling to me than the idea of him donating a total of 15 gallons and one pint by the end of his lifetime, was the fact that he did it in such a short time span. He didn’t begin to donate blood until his wife, my grandma, gave birth to my dad. After the birth she had some health issues relating to her kidneys. This resulted in her requiring surgery and having blood transfusions. My grandpa saw the importance of blood donations that day, and how a small donation can have a huge impact on someone’s life, and their family. Ever since then, he donated every time he was able. In fact, he inspired his family to donate. He even had a competition with his daughter, Anna (who is mentioned in the letter above). The father and daughter duo tried to see who could reach the 15 gallon mark first. Although she beat him, that didn’t stop my grandpa from trying to win the overall competition. He donated that one extra pint just to tip himself over the edge, which explains the odd number of 15 gallons and one pint.
Although he would have kept donating until the day he died, his family had to stop him eventually, due to his old age. However, his legacy has continued on and has led his family to still give donations. I accidentally found the ten gallon key ring letter the day I began my communications internship at the American Red Cross. Coincidence? I know he would be proud of me and my work at the Red Cross if he was still alive today. Now I am inspired to give my first blood donation. Despite my failed past attempts where my blood pressure was too high, I am determined to donate blood this semester!
Considering the fact that every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, there is a great demand for blood donations. Sadly, January was a difficult time for the American Red Cross. Nearly 20,000 blood and platelet donations were cancelled due to inclement weather. The American Red Cross is calling for generous people to give a little blood to make a big difference.
To save someone’s life through blood donation, go to redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.
Will you be the next ten gallon donor?
Written by: Ashton Yust
MSSU Student and Red Cross Communications Intern